Boris Vian's Transatlantic: Sources, Myths, and Dreams

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Hardcover Fine 0820440132 Publication Date: 1998. No jacket as issued. Clean pages and sound binding.

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Boris Vian lived during a period of redefinition in France, from the instability of the Thirties, through the German Occupation, then into the friendly if overwhelming presence of the American liberators. Vian resisted identification with the movements now associated with mid-century French literary and intellectual history--surrealism, existentialism, the absurd--while creating a multifaceted ouvre that owed and contributed something to them all. This study concentrates, however, on the importance of American influences on Vian's extensive jazz activities and his mock translations of American noir novels under the name Vernon Sullivan. Vian personally embodied the increasingly transatlantic nature of Western culture and the melding of elite and popular forms of expression. The diverse components of this synthesis shed light on the construction of both individual and national identity in postwar France.
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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 Childhood Dreams: France in the Thirties 5
The Vians 5
Work and Play 6
Role Models 10
2 Thinking American: French Opinion and the U.S., 1930-1950 21
A Troubled Peace, A Drole de Guerre 22
The Approach of Industrial Society 24
American Imperialism 27
The American Other 28
3 Representations 29
Representing Americans: the expatriate Yanks 29
American Representations: the Novel 31
American Representations: Film 36
Black Americans in Paris 39
Negritude and Black Americans 41
French Writers Representing America 46
4 The War Years: Boris Zazou 51
After the Fall 52
Wartime Letters 55
Vian and Company 58
Zazous 60
Liberation 67
5 Second Linin': Boris Vian and American Jazz 69
Jazz Bloodlines 70
Racial discrimination 75
La Querelle du bebop 80
Musicians 86
Jazz in Europe 90
American Social Issues in the Jazz Press 94
Jazz Ideologies 96
The Liberties and Limitations of Jazz Performance 100
6 Roman Noir: Sullivan, Chandler and Cain 105
The passe-blanc Sullivans 107
The Action/Fantasy Sullivans 108
Tough-guy Voices 109
Objective Narration 111
Other Narrative Devices 114
Settings 118
Cars and Booze 120
Other Thematic Considerations 123
Cinema 125
Sex, Violence and Death 127
Racial Matters 131
The Importance of Being Vernon Sullivan 135
7 The Passe-Blanc: Boris Vian and the New French Literary Establishment 137
Saint-Germain-des-Pres 137
L'Ecume des jours 140
Vian and Les Temps Modernes 145
8 Vian and the uses of Myth 153
Bibliography 161
Biographic Outline 167
Index 169
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