Volume 11, Issue 3, March 2021

A Word from the Editor

The reviews in this issue revolve around the themes of crimes and misbehaviours, of gender and victimhood.

David Bell reviews Roman Polanski’s J’Accuse [An Officer and a Spy], a film about Colonel Picquart’s engagement with the Dreyfus Affair, determined as he was to find the real culprit. The film, however, neglects the role of the family in the process and gives an image of Dreyfus that has more to do with Polanski’s obsessions than with the historical character.

Colin Jones argues in his revisiting of A Tale of Two Cities that we should rethink the novel for what it is:  a comparison between Paris and London, where Paris comes off better than its counterpart. Dickens loved Paris. Rather than denouncing the French, Dickens sympathized with the victims of the Old Regime, even if he had a murky picture of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, relying instead on his thorough acquaintance with London’s East End.

The next two texts deal with the lives and criminal prosecution of two women: a wartime abortionist and a post-war killer. Gayle Brunelle and Annette Finley-Crosswhite endorse Philippe Jaenada’s conclusions in his docu-novel that Pauline Dubuisson was a victim of wartime trauma, since her father used her to cement his connections with German officers. Her crime passionnel (if crime there was) should be viewed within that context. Instead, she was vilified as too loose and free for the mores of the immediate post-war. This condemnation is repeated by Henri-Georges Clouzot in his film La Vérité, which turns Brigitte Bardot in the role of Dubuisson, into a frivolous and amoral member of the “new generation.”

Amoral and frivolous might well apply to Marie-Louise Giraud who, like so many women, endured the hardships of the Occupation, struggling to feed her children. Accidentally drawn into the role of faiseuse d’anges, she was able to afford the niceties of life and to dream of a future with her milicien lover once her fame spread. There were dark sides to this. The Vichy authorities caught up with her and she was judged and executed in 1943 for “treason to the state.” As Hanna Diamond demonstrates, in Story of Women, Claude Chabrol touches on the life of women in wartime, broadening the scope beyond Giraud.

Happy reading!

This is the last issue that I produce. After eleven years, it is time to hang up my spurs and to let a new person take the bulletin in a new direction, under a new title. I would like to thank all the wonderful authors who have made this such an exciting venture. I would also like to give a big thanks to those who, over the years, have helped me with the technical and creative aspects: the advisory board, Howard Brown with whom this journey started, Laura Mason who will continue it, Eric Reed, Mark Reeves, Chris Tozzi, and David Smith. Special thanks to Charlotte Wells who assisted me in the editing process and had wise words and a salutary sense of humour when I sometimes despaired.

Liana Vardi

University at Buffalo, SUNY


Table of Contents


Roman Polanski’s An Officer and a Spy, by David A. Bell
A Tale of Two Cities: A Transnational Approach, by Colin Jones
The Many Faces and Truths of Pauline Dubuisson, by Gayle K. Brunelle; Annette Finley-Croswhite
Abortion during the Occupation: Claude Chabrol’s Une affaire de femmes (Story of Women), by Hanna Diamond