Popular Front Paris And The Poetics Of Culture

Paperback (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from BN.com
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $17.64
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 30%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (7) from $17.64   
  • New (3) from $24.19   
  • Used (4) from $17.64   


The story of Paris in the 1930s seems straightforward enough, with the Popular Front movement leading toward the inspiring 1936 election of a leftist coalition government. The socialist victory, which resulted in fundamental improvements in the lives of workers, was then derailed in a precipitous descent that culminated in France's capitulation before the Nazis in June 1940. Yet no matter how minutely recounted, this "straight story" clarifies only the political activity behind which turbulent cultural currents brought about far-reaching changes in everyday life and the way it is represented.

In this book, Dudley Andrew and Steven Ungar apply an evocative "poetics of culture" to capture the complex atmospherics of Paris in the 1930s. They highlight the new symbolic forces put in play by technologies of the illustrated press and the sound film—technologies that converged with efforts among writers (Gide, Malraux, Céline), artists (Renoir, Dalí), and other intellectuals (Mounier, de Rougemont, Leiris) to respond to the decade's crises.

Their analysis takes them to expositions and music halls, to upscale architecture and fashion sites, to traditional neighborhoods, and to overseas territories, the latter portrayed in metropolitan exhibits and colonial cinema. Rather than a straight story of the Popular Front, they have produced something closer to the format of an illustrated newspaper whose multiple columns represent the breadth of urban life during this critical decade at the end of the Third French Republic.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Ginette Vincendeau
Dudley Andrew and Steven Ungar's Popular Front Paris is an interdisciplinary study of culture in 1930s France, especially at the time of the Popular Front. Through the study of film, literature, and other media (such as journals, both learned and popular, photography and radio), the authors define and study a 'poetics of culture', a culture which they see primarily characterized by the move from culture to politics under the pressure of national and international developments. The project of the book is ambitious and original.
Herman Lebovics
Andrew and Ungar have written a bold and wonderful book on the moment in France in the mid-1930s when the dream of freedom became flesh as new culture and new politics. With the Popular Front at the center of interest, it is at the same time a work on cultural politics and political culture of the years between World War I and II in France. It is the best such study that I know.
Keith Reader
This is a substantial piece of work on a key period in modern French, and indeed European, history – key not only in political terms, with the vicissitudes of the Left and the rise of Fascism, but culturally, with the rise of new media of mass communication such as the illustrated press and the sound cinema.
Fredric Jameson
The history of the 20th century is so intertwined with the history of film it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between them. This magnificent evocation of the French 1930s - so exciting politically and culturally - is memory stained with images, film as the very body of historical time: the popular front, surrealism, the colonies, the press, the chanson, the scandals, the quarrels of great writers from Gide to Celine. From all this, concentrated in stills from Bunuel or Renoir, our leave taking, with Levi-Strauss on the boat to the New World after the fall of Paris, is a sad one: the authors having demonstrated how energizing this seething decade can still be for us today. They help in the vital task of rescuing the Thirties everywhere.
Modernism/modernity - Eugen Weber
Dudley Andrew and Steven Ungar have written a diverse, disparate, protean book that is well worth heeding...A judicious and often elegant original work of broad scope and great ambition.
Choice - N. R. Fitch
The subject of this book is the frenzied cross-pollination of politics and culture in France during the tumultuous 1930s. This magnificent study has as its point of departure cinematographic culture and techniques. Andrew and Ungar deliver brilliant close readings of numerous films--both classics and cheap commercial enterprises--to illuminate the spheres of political imagination...The authors' many years of labor on this book were well spent. No one committed to cultural history can ignore this book and its powerful and persuasive methodology. This is interdisciplinary work at its very best.
American Historical Review - Thomas Kselman
Andrew and Ungar's book...is rich, complex, and frequently rewarding...This is a valuable and fascinating book, particularly in its insightful readings of a broad array of films of the 1930s.
French Review - William Cloonan
To claim that the most original aspect of Popular Front Paris resides in its approach is not at all to diminish the genuine contributions to traditional scholarship it contains. Andrew and Ungar have been working on this book for almost twenty years, and the time spent, patient research undertaken, and insight gained are everywhere apparent...The combination of information, juxtaposition, and analyses provided makes the volume essential reading for scholars of the era or for anyone teaching courses with a major focus on the 1930s in France...Popular Front Paris is an exciting book, both in its excellent evocation of the past, and in the implications its approach contains for the future.
French Forum - Lynn A. Higgins
A magnificently interdisciplinary study of France in the
1930s, which reaches to embrace popular expression and urban life along with the work of intellectuals and artists...Andrew’s and Ungar’s combined erudition and their compellingly orchestrated presentation blend a series of almost autonomous essays into a dense and coherent portrait of an era...The book’s evocative, intellectually nimble, and often playful style is in keeping with the authors’ expressed desire to highlight interweaving, paradox, and coincidence. The result is a model of contemporary Cultural Studies, an indispensable reference...and a pleasure to read.
Canadian Journal of Film Studies - Charles O'Brien
Andrew and Ungar offer a study of the cultural life of mid-1930s Paris in extraordinary breadth and substantive detail. Spanning topics from literature to film, stage revues, automobiles, photo journalism, literary awards, weekly magazines, and colonial and decorative-arts expositions, and layered with cross-references and thematic links, this weighty book is of essential value for scholars of interwar France...Regardless of where one stands on the possibilities and limits of the cultural contextualization of film, Popular Front Paris is likely to prove provocative.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674027169
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 464
  • Product dimensions: 0.94 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Dudley Andrew is Professor of Film Studies and of Comparative Literature at Yale University.

Steven Ungar is Professor of French and Chair of Comparative Literature at the University of Iowa and the author of Roland Barthes: the Professor of Desire.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Prologue : the poetics of culture and the harmonics of history 1
Introduction : a page in history : Resnais' Stavisky ... and the 1930s 15
1 February 6, 1934, and the press of direct action 55
2 Celine and Malraux : the literature of discontent 90
3 Esprit in the arena of extremist politics 109
4 Jean Renoir's La Marseillaise : the arc of revolution 142
5 Daily life in the city 177
6 Popular entertainment and the decay of intimacy 188
7 The look of Paris in the age of art deco 228
8 The lower depths : picturing the Quartier Populaire 277
9 Imagining the colonies 299
10 Turbulence in the atmosphere 340
Conclusion as forecast 379
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)