Volume 1, Issue 2, January 2011

Issue 2   January 2011

The Buzz

Parrot and Olivier in America
From the moment of its publication, we knew that we would feature Peter Carey’s new novel in one of our early issues. How could we not address the world-renowned author’s grappling with the legacy of the French Revolution? The perspective might be that of a highly fictionalized Alexis de Tocqueville, in the guise of a Restoration Don Quixote (or rather a Bertie Wooster to his English manservant’s Jeeves) whose picaresque travels through America we follow, with forays into French post-revolutionary aristocratic trauma and English working-class ambitions, and a glimpse at Australian convict experience. But it is Carey’s question, mirroring Tocqueville’s, which ought to propel this novel into the classroom: Viewed from 1830, did America rather than France represent the democratic future?
To read the review . . .

Maybe Missed

Patrick Rambaud’s Napoleonic Trilogy
Patrick Rambaud’s trilogy of novels about Napoleon is doubly unusual. His attitude toward historical fiction is similar to that of the once famous André Chamson, director of the Archives Nationales in the 1960s, who described his own novels as romans dans l’histoire, rather than romans historiques or – worse – histoires romancées, such as those of Alexandre Dumas.  Like Chanson, Rambaud repudiates these other forms, and seeks instead to relive historical events through personal close ups based on first-hand accounts.  Rambaud is also distinctive in writing about the inglorious Napoleon, the loser of a major battle in 1809, the organizer of defeat in Russia in 1812, and the ruler of an island kingdom rather than a continental empire in 1814-15.  Here, then, is one author combining two unusual perspectives over three novels.  Students will have much to discuss.
To read the review . . .

Classroom Classics

May Fools, The Dreamers & Regular Lovers
At its fortieth anniversary, much covered by the international press, 1968 remained “the year that changed everything,” from the Prague Spring to the Chicago riots, by way of a French general strike and the occupation of the Sorbonne.  The controversy over its legacy, however, has been bitter in France, focused on the hedonistic abandon of its middle-class participants.  The political intrudes occasionally in Louis Malle’s Milou en mai, but, unlike documentaries about the period, it is indeed sexual liberation that permeates the fiction on this period.  Does this tell us something worth addressing with our students, or does the phenomenon merely reflect the personal obsessions of the film directors?
To read the review . . .

Liana Vardi, University at Buffalo, SUNY
Howard G. Brown, Binghamton University, SUNY

Previous Issues

Table of Contents

The Buzz

Parrot and Olivier in America, by K. Steven Vincent

Maybe Missed

Patrick Rambaud’s Napoleonic Trilogy, by Michael Sibalis

Classics in the Classroom

May Fools, The Dreamers & Regular Lovers, by Donald M. Reid

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