France

Kamel Daoud’s ‘The Meursault Investigation’: A Postcolonial Rejoinder to Camus’ Absurdist Classic ‘The Stranger’

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Absurdism did not start out as a literary movement whose setting was “nowhere” — though that was, in many cases, where it it ultimately settled. Camus’ revered novel The Stranger was firmly rooted (or firmly anti-rooted, really) in the author’s provenance: colonial Algeria. It was published in 1942, the same year as Camus’ early absurdist manifesto, The Myth of Sisyphus — and these two works could easily be seen as the founding documents of what would become a predominantly midcentury European literary tradition. The Stranger‘s solipsistic antihero, Meursault, lived in Algeria (but notably belonged nowhere) almost a decade before the publication of some of the most important, movement-defining works in the Theatre of the Absurd. Between the ’50s and ’60s, these works would ultimately remove the Absurd from real-world notions of “place.”
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Americans Can Finally Read the Harrowing WW II Memoir ‘Little Prince’ Author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Smuggled Out of France

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If the name Léon Werth is familiar to you, but you aren’t sure why, open to the first pages of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s novella The Little Prince. You’ll find it in the dedication. “To Léon Werth,” it reads. “[H]e is the best friend I have in the world.”

The French knew Werth as an acerbic critic of the commodification of art, a novelist and friend of Surrealists (like Octave Mirbeau), and an anti-Stalin leftist who wrote 33 Days, a painful, unnerving account of his escape from the Wehrmacht as it advanced on Paris in 1940, an event that led to the mass migration (known as “l’Éxode” or “The Exodus”) of eight million people. Werth’s devastating story captures the frustration and terror he experienced in the slow-moving caravans and the fearful uncertainty of not knowing whether his son was still alive. It is, in short, and indispensable chronicle of a major world-historical event that Americans know too little about. And it is observed by a man whose mind is attuned to selective transmission of history by its victors.
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PEN and Salman Rushdie’s Disappointing Response to Authors Who Refuse to Celebrate ‘Charlie Hebdo’

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Six writers — Teju Cole, Rachel Kushner, Michael Ondaatje, Francine Prose, Peter Carey, and Taiye Selasi — will withdraw as literary hosts from the PEN American Center’s annual gala in response to the organization’s decision to recognize Charlie Hebdo with the James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award. But instead of recognizing the power of their gesture, PEN has met these writers with a pose of incredulity and a statement written in the language of a GOP primary.
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50 Excellent International Pop Songs From the 1960s

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The documentary Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock ‘n’ Roll debuted in theaters Wednesday, exploring the country’s rich music tradition that emerged concurrently with a period of strife. Influenced by Western and European rock and pop during the 1960s, Cambodian musicians combined traditional sounds with modern beats. “But as Cambodian society — young creative musicians in particular — embraced Western culture and flourished under its influence, the rest of the country was rapidly moving to war,” explain the documentarians. “The film is a celebration of the incredible music that came from Cambodia and explores how important it is to Cambodian society both past and present.” Inspired by the unique sounds of Cambodia, we took a trip through the international pop scene of the ‘60s in all its forms — from the American rock-inspired bands that imitated the Beatles to the yé-yé girls of …Read More

Brigitte Bardot’s Most Iconic Music and Film Fashion Moments

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French sex symbol, singer, and animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot celebrates her 80th birthday today. The blonde bombshell actress—who once became the official face of France’s national emblem in 1969, Marianne—is known for her effortless style. Bardot retreated from the spotlight more than 40 years ago, but thankfully we have her music and film projects to pour over for style tips. Here are ten of Bardot’s most iconic fashion moments.
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French Nightclubs Photographed During the Day

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As anyone who has frequented a nightclub can attest to, it’s a whole different world when the lights come on. Photographer Francois Prost, whose work we discovered on Fubiz, has captured that phenomenon — but from the outside. Since 2011, Prost has been documenting the move these nighttime establishments are making from the city to the outskirts of France and Belgium. He photographs the startling transformation various suburban French discotheques undergo in the daytime. Gone are the dark, neon-lit dance palaces that seem to thrum to the beat. Instead, we see the worn walls of the nightclubs. Their garish signs stand out against vast fields and industrial parks, with grubby lots and garbage-filled corners. The images evoke that hazy, surreal feeling one might have when leaving the club after a long night of dancing, stepping into the blinding light.
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