A Word from the Editor
With this issue, Fiction and Film for French Historians is getting a facelift. It will now be known as Fiction and Film for Scholars of France, although the web link remains the same to provide online continuity. We have dropped the categories Buzz/Maybe Missed/Classics in the Classroom, which proved hard to fill for every issue, as, for example, we artificially moved a new work to Maybe Missed. Reviews will simply be numbered, starting with the newest item. Months of publication will still appear but without a rigid schedule. Our goal remains unchanged: to communicate to scholars of France what fictional works might be useful in teaching or as insights into a period that scholarly studies often miss.
In this issue, Martha Hannah reviews Xavier Beauvois’s 2017 film Les gardiennes/The Guardians, based on a 1927 novel of the same name. She tells us what the film gets right about women on the home front during World War I and where the filmmaker exaggerates the successes of its female farmers, and the post-war mobility of its female farmhand. While labour on the fields is beautifully conveyed, she warns us that the depiction of American troops may not be to everyone’s liking!
Charlotte Wells takes us on a ride through the first two volumes of a new graphic history of France, L’histoire dessinée de la France, under the direction of Sylvain Venayre. Its gambit is to match a current specialist of the period with an illustrator and, depending on the volume, to have the two interact with the historical characters they are discussing. And a ride it is. The first volume resurrects Joan of Arc, Molière, General Alexandre Dumas (the famed novelist’s father), Michelet, and Marie Curie and has them circle contemporary France and compare it to their day. Pétain is a reluctant fellow traveler. The second volume takes us back to France’s Celtic past and the Roman Conquest, with a new historian and illustrator. A third volume is already out. Each is funnier than the last, Wells assures us.
Lastly, Ben White takes on Annie Ernaux’s magisterial 2008 novel Les années, recently translated into English. It is a summation of Ernaux’s lifelong attempt to recapture her past, offering the portrait of a generation born around the Second World War up to the present day. It is filled with vignettes about economic, social, and political changes over half a century, and on a more personal front, the changing nature of family, and the social mobility offered by the Trente glorieuses.
University at Buffalo, SUNY
Table of Contents
The Homefront During WWI: Xavier Beauvois’s Les Gardiennes (2017), by Martha Hannah
C’est drôle, l’histoire: L’ histoire dessinée de la France, vols. 1 and 2, by Charlotte C. Wells
An Infinite Present: Annie Ernaux’s The Years and Modern French History, by Benjamin Thomas White