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Similar to the way in which Mexican poetry has found its niche in the English-speaking world, Beckett too has established a presence in foreign territories through all the inevitable paradigm shifts: translations, interpretations, and adaptations.

South of Paris books – Reviews of books read in French,English or even German

Weller It is futile to place Beckett within the frameworks of a discipline that is defined by centre and periphery, which maps literature temporally, geographically, or even linguistically. Tagore uses a central metaphor that regards literature as a temple conceived by a universal being and constructed by individual writers from various countries and different ages.

Instead, he proposes:. For Tagore, visva-sahitya is thus a priori to a sum of all distinct and divided literary oeuvres, even though nobody knows its complete blueprint, but where any faulty composition is repeatedly demolished. In fact, he is even critical of contextualising or historicising literature, under the reign of Akbar, for instance, or as part of Gujarati history or the Elizabethan era.

According to Damrosch, world literature is 1 an elliptical refraction of national literatures, 2 which gains in translation, 3 and which is also a detached mode of reading Damrosch , The rest we contemplate historically and assimilate from it the best as far as we can. Apter, Emily. London: Verso, Auerbach, Erich. Maire and Edward Said. The Centennial Review Beckett, Samuel. Disjecta: Miscellaneous Writings and a Dramatic Fragment. New York: Grove Press, The Complete Dramatic Works. London: Faber and Faber, The Grove Centenary Edition, Vol.

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Paul Auster. The Grove Centenary Edition , Vol. II, Novels. Salman Rushdie. The Letters of Samuel Beckett, Vol. George Craig et al. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Casanova, Pascale. The World Republic of Letters. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Cheah, Pheng. On world literature as world-making activity. Clark, Timothy. Martin Heidegger.

London: Routledge, The Routledge Companion to World Literature. New York: Routledge, World Literature: A Reader. Damrosch, David. What is World Literature? Princeton: Princeton University Press, Haun Saussy. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, Derrida, Jacques. Laurence Venuti. Critical Inquiry 2 : Dev, Amiya. Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von.

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Conversations with Eckermann John Oxenford. San Francisco: Northpoint Press, Graver, Lawrence, and Raymond Federman. Samuel Beckett, The Critical Heritage. Johnson, Samuel. A dictionary of the English language: in which the words are deduced from their originals, and illustrated in their different significations by examples from the best writers: to which are prefixed, a history of the language, and an English grammar. London: J. Rivington et al. Knowlson, James. Paperback Ed. London: Bloomsbury, Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of and the Communist Manifesto.

Amherst: Prometheus Books, Mommsen, K. Indeed you will have to adapt, abandon the miserable, anxious face of yesterday, the dreadfully wrinkled one of today. A period of reconstruction demands the positive face of hope — that of youth, and of enchantment. By the beginning of November , however, activity in the French studios had barely begun again.

Apart from the question of funds, there were other practical difficulties. Many directors, stars and technicians had escaped — while there was still time — to America, or to the Unoccupied Zone in the South of France. Nino wanted to start on an optimistic note, and in his first article for Les Nouveaux Temps he welcomed the opportunity for French audiences to see once again the best European films — especially German, Italian and Russian — after being deprived of them since before the war. Making the best of the situation, he declared that much of French cinema was too slavishly dependent on a Hollywood model which had become stale, but now had the chance to return to its European traditions:.

Where cinema was concerned, we were condemned to be nothing but a colony of Hollywood, as if suddenly we had ceased to belong to Europe, to be part of this continent which is our own The following pages describe the main film events of note, as perceived by Nino, between November and June , when he left the paper.

Apart from a few re-issues of older French films, for the next few weeks Paris cinemas showed almost exclusively German films, and Nino developed a clear strategy for his reviews, against a background of strict censorship. He had a longstanding admiration for some of the German actors known in France since the days of silent film and for iconic early sound films, some made in both German and French versions.

But at the centre of his appreciation were these key actors, whose contribution he praised at length. The three great German actors: Heinrich George, or down-to-earth sincerity personified; Emil Jannings, whose characters all seem real, but only real; and finally Werner Krauss, or the master of the indefinable, the complex, the enigmatic In this second article he would go even further in his admiration for Werner Krauss, who played the conservative elderly doctor and State Councillor who tried to prevent acceptance of the young doctor's discovery:.

In February , a German production arrived which it would take all his ingenuity to review without attracting censorship or, alternatively, appearing to approve its denigration of the Jews. Nino's article was entitled 'Bas-Fonds', an oblique reference to Gorky's novel and Renoir's film about down-and-outs. He began with a four-column review praising L'Enfer des Anges , a new film by the French director Christian-Jaque, to which we return later.

For this film, he again adopted his strategy of describing the plot but then concentrating on the actors. Even among German colleagues, he was accused of excessive enthusiasm in his near-parodic treatment of these Jewish characters, but declared "That's nothing to do with me — I'm an actor. What a truly dizzying actor! Characterising Levy briefly as "ghastly and ingratiating" ['calamiteux et chattemite'], he described at some length the depiction of Loew, which he found very moving:.

Rabbi Loew, bleary with age, piping out wise sayings, expert in the stars [he was an astrologer] and in obtaining dispensations from Jehovah; gruff, unsteady, twitching, only half-human, almost a ghost. By now, French cinema was beginning to show signs of new life, and more and more the reviews in Les Nouveaux Temps would be concerned with French films, and the French industry.

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A few films trickled in from the Unoccupied Zone, where production had continued, but in Paris the only real possibility for French directors was to work for the newly-formed German company, Continental. Very quickly, two films were in production, and journalists were invited to the studios. The story concerned vulnerable adolescents at the mercy of a drug dealer, and had been made by Christian-Jaque within the context of the realist films of the late s.

It was introduced by the statement:. There was also a clear link to social-comment Hollywood films of the same period, and in his review of the film Nino specifically mentioned William Wyler's Dead End :. L'Enfer des Anges presents us with a story of abandoned children, interpreted by some astonishing young actors, as picturesque, as alive as those in the famous Dead End and other American films in the same vein: nothing could be more appealing.

Certain episodes, too true to the sordid realities of the slums, had been cut: "If I'm not mistaken, the moralising censorship of Vichy has been at work here. It was the producers who were the target of his main criticism. Because he viewed this as a serious piece of filmmaking, purporting to face up to injustice and callousness in society, he had a major objection to the ending, which did not ring true.

He would voice frequently — and increasingly, as fancy replaced reality more and more in films made under Occupation conditions — this criticism, that producers claimed that they could only sell films with happy endings, thus insisting on falsifying serious stories:. Their story should have ended with death, and loneliness: but because of the wishes of those who trade in films [the producers], it will be a miraculous cure, flowers on the hospital bed, applause, and no doubt the prospect of a marriage blessed with many children I won't go on. Then soon afterwards, a French film of an entirely different kind was released in Paris, the first to arrive from the Unoccupied Zone.

His films often came directly from his stage plays, and contained substantially more dialogue than was approved of by those directors and, especially, critics who felt that the particular strength of cinema lay in its ability to access and manipulate physical images to an extent which was impossible for theatre. Pagnol insisted on the importance of dialogue for exploring human emotional and psychological complexities: with the result that his characters, the people of Provence, were much loved by audiences across the world.

In his review, on 26th April, Nino tackled these critical debates head-on, with two questions: 'Is it a good film? Nino's own words explain both the dispute and his personal opinion of Pagnol and his films:. Is it cinema? Who still recalls the quarrel that some people picked with Marcel Pagnol, a few years ago? This author, leaving the theatre, declared that in future he would devote himself to the cinema; and, as a dramatic author, he stressed the fundamental importance of the text, going so far as to show a certain disdain for the special contribution made by the moving images.

People attacked him, argued with him, criticised him. In all these films, as Marcel Pagnol had always asserted, the text formed the basis of the work: but the author also made every effort to animate and vary the images, like the most orthodox of directors. And that created excellent cinema — for a hundred theoretical discussions are not worth a good film, and a man like Marcel Pagnol could not fail to make good films. Marcel Pagnol and his actors, you can only compare them to a force of nature: the genius of the author reaches an almost Tolstoyan perfection, so that he writes and composes, as it were, on the level of humanity in its pure and integral state.

The underlying humanity perceived in this film, the emotional and psychological complexities of its characters, are important in the light of the banal plot, a frequent occurrence in French films of the period. The heroine is seduced by a young man a pilot, in this case who goes off to the war; she is pregnant, and is thrown out by her father; the pilot is thought to have perished, but finally returns and marries her.

In his review, Nino did not deny the banality of the theme, or certain longueurs in the production, but nonetheless, as the quotations show, considered the vital aspects to be its underlying sincerity and humanity, and Marcel Pagnol to be an exceptional director.

Chapter 10 Nino Frank and cinema under the German Occupation

In the following weeks, this relatively modest film would form the springboard for a debate about the whole future of the French film industry. In June, the writer Henry de Montherlant wrote an article in the new rightwing journal Lectures , entitled 'Va-t-on laisser mourir la France? His proposal, to tackle this unacceptable situation, was:.

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A kind of inquisition in the name of the quality of the French character. Evidently he was calling for cinema to be subjected to rigorous censorship. And given that his declared attitude to the Occupation was:.


Do what you can to crush the enemy. But once he has shown that he is the one on the right track, become his willing ally,.

Nino was stung to reply, partly because he and Montherlant disagreed about the value of this particular film, but more fundamentally because Montherlant, who normally took little interest in cinema, appeared to be laying down the law on a subject which had exercised film critics and directors for years. Many efforts had been made to appoint a supervisory body, with the aim of ensuring acceptable levels of technical and artistic quality — but not of censoring subject-matter other than outright pornography. He replied in the magazine in which Montherlant regularly wrote, La Gerbe , ironically referencing the writer's demand for an 'inquisition', in his title and a number of times in his article.

And he emphasised that the task would need to be undertaken not by a State functionary, but by someone familiar with the world of cinema: professional knowledge was needed to make judgments on the acceptability of film scripts, but there were also much more far-reaching aspects:. Will all that be demanded of admirals and bureaucrats?

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Nino was well aware of it through his contacts with Italian filmmakers. In the event, a compromise solution was found within the next months. Nino was impressed by early indications of his plans for the French film industry, writing in Les Nouveaux Temps at the end of May , after a disappointing crop of films:. Galey, Government Commissioner for the Cinema, we have a friend, passionate about the art of moving images, who has already given proofs of his good intentions, who is beginning to carry out serious actions in favour of quality cinema, and from whom we can await further decisive efforts to save French film.

That of will be rather better. It could be good, if the producers gave more attention to their work and surrounded themselves with more talent How many producers still consider a film like some kind of grocery product, that you put together in a rush and sell off from one day to the next I don't want it to be like that in future. I have too much confidence in my country to doubt that people will listen to what I say. At the Liberation he was subjected to questioning, but absolved of any blame for his connections to Vichy. In the early s, H.

Clouzot had been recognised as a talented scriptwriter, but subsequently he spent many years in and out of tuberculosis cures. In early he had the room next to Nino Frank in the sanatorium at Leysin, where they had chatted together for hours on end. So Nino was particularly cheered at his return to the film world, had been happy to be invited on the set of the film Le Dernier des Six , for which Clouzot had written the script, and waited with impatience for the film's release, in September He was now working as a critic on an additional publication, the film and theatre weekly Vedettes , where he decided to write a substantial review of the film.

It was a detective film from a story by the well-known Belgian writer S. The plot was rather creaky, but Nino chose to leave his criticisms to the end and concentrate first on unstinting praise of all these contributors, starting with Clouzot:. Definitely, Henri-Georges Clouzot is establishing himself as one of our best scriptwriters and one of our best writers of dialogue: his talent is supple and rich, his skill is boundless After a long absence from the studios, he has returned to us with new good evidence of his know-how Let us applaud Henri-Georges Clouzot, 23 orig.

Georges Lacombe has been able to give it a rapid and lively rhythm, which has the spectator holding his breath, and scrupulously respects the conventions of the crime film,. Suzy Delair who, personifying a stuck-up young madam, with a caustic wit, a character which is undoubtedly a bit superficial, stakes out her ravishing and comical authority,. For some years he had been criticising the facile nature of detective films and the fact that they were just intellectual puzzles: one of the reasons for the enthusiastic welcome he would give to the first American "films noirs" in , which appeared to relate to real life, however sordid.

And here he felt that even the plotting of the detection was less than credible:. We pity the worthy commissioner Wens for not discovering the murderer right at the start, which everyone could do who knows a bit about this kind of work and about the facile tricks used by authors lacking in imagination. As we have seen, during critics were becoming increasingly disillusioned with the quality of recent French films, which were handicapped as much by the exodus or disappearance underground of many of the best cinema talents, as by lack of money and the demands of censorship.

It was like a return to French cinema's glorious years in the s. This lovely surprise: an ambitious work full of pathos, a magnificent film It's clear to see. Nostalgia for the days before the war is heavy in this review. And Nino, wistfully, in this pitiless winter of , re-lived the summer of Do you remember, Jean, our wanderings from village to village, with that play?

You were the first to say to me, in front of our jugs of Meursault, that Remorques would be a splendid work. That must have been on 15th August, During the first half of at Les Nouveaux Temps , Nino found only three films which roused his enthusiasm sufficiently to justify full-scale reviews, evidence of his continuing disillusionment with French cinema under the current circumstances. These all boasted a well-known director or writer from an earlier generation, all much admired by the columnist, who clearly also wished to promote the work of his old friends.

On 21st March, he had the pleasure of reviewing a newly-released film, made in by his idol Jacques Feyder, with dialogue by Alexandre Arnoux: La Piste du Nord now lost. This film does not feature today in the list of Feyder's greatest successes, perhaps because its plot - a crime of passion followed by a pursuit in the wastes of the Canadian North - was unusual for Feyder but also very difficult to shoot outdoors in winter in the Swiss Alps, or to reconstruct in the studio.

While recognising this, Nino was bowled over, as he always had been, by the brilliance of Feyder's style , and concentrated in his review on this aspect of the film:. At the present moment, in Europe, we never see a director capable of making an ambitious work in such an original and dazzling style Two aspects gave particular interest to this film, reviewed on 4th April.

It was the first occasion on which the long-admired novelist and playwright Jean Giraudoux had written the script for a film, in this case directed by Jacques de Baroncelli, with music by Francis Poulenc. The film was an adaptation of a short novel by Balzac, from his volume L'Histoire des Treize , which Nino dismissed as "qui n'est point ce que Balzac a fait de mieux". Nonetheless, it appears that many commentators had criticised Giraudoux for departing from Balzac's plot, and Nino decided to use his review to defend the writer's choices.

He did this not only because in his opinion they improved the film cinematographically speaking, but also in defence of the principle that the two media required different plot choices and treatments. This decision had the effect of concentrating the review on plot differences between the two works; but more interesting is the challenge it contained to other critics, and Nino's passionate belief in Jean Giraudoux and the very personal contribution he could make to cinema:. It seems that, without the least hesitation, we should congratulate ourselves that the art of moving and talking images has gained such a talent.

A key problem, in turning the story into a film, was the sparseness of episodes, so that Giraudoux had been obliged to add some inventions of his own. While accepting that certain of these were more propitious than others, Nino was convinced that overall the strategy succeeded:. Thus, the scriptwriter, borrowing from Balzac the characters and the theme, found that he had to invent the twists and turns of the story.

Should we reproach Giraudoux for having decided not to pastiche Balzac, but to compose a Giraudoux? In its detail, the story holds together better than in the Balzac. It can still be bought on DVD today, and is one of the few French films of the period to be marketed with English sub-titles. Henri Decoin was a talented director, whose subsequent reputation suffered from his wartime willingness to collaborate with the German film industry, and to work, as here, for Continental, the German film company in Paris. Clouzot was likewise condemned after the war.

But in recent years critics and film-lovers have revisited their films and recognised the artistic talent which went into making them. But at the trial the judge points the finger at the respected burghers of the town because they have not invested in providing a stimulating environment for their adolescent children. In true Simenon tradition, he then identifies the criminal, without further evidence, through clever psychological deduction. Very unusually, the director and scriptwriter had decided to introduce the film with a monologue, notionally spoken by Simenon himself, describing the ambiance of the film and providing the background to the plot.

Nino was excited by this departure from usual film practice, and it offered him the opportunity to raise the question, about which he felt strongly, of why - in contrast to all other media - cinema practitioners chose to remain distanced from their characters:. Cinema has been made into the objective, indeed impersonal, art par excellence, although in its basic principles it offered better possibilities than the theatre for the direct expression of an author's thoughts and sensibilities.

Those who compose for the cinema hide scrupulously behind their characters, as though these could enjoy an autonomous existence, as Unamuno and Pirandello claimed But consider the cinema spectator: what he asks from the screen is not an impersonal representation of reality, but a sort of human or poetic message.