Emigré New York: French Intellectuals in Wartime Manhattan, 1940-1944

Emigré New York: French Intellectuals in Wartime Manhattan, 1940-1944

by Jeffrey Mehlman


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Consider the oddly juxtaposed eminence of those in attendance: Wartime New York was the city where French Symbolism, in the person of Maurice Maeterlinck, came to live out its last productive years; where French surrealism, in the person of André Breton, came to survive; and where French structuralism, in the person of Claude Lévi-Strauss, came to be born. From the largely forgotten prewar visit to the city of Pétain and Laval to the seizing, burning, and capsizing of the Normandie, France's floating museum, in the Hudson River, Jeffrey Mehlman evokes the writerly world of French Manhattan, its achievements and feuds, during one of the most vexed periods of French history.

In Emigré New York, a series of surprising and expertly etched portraits emerge against the backdrop of an overriding irony: the United States, the world's principal hope in the battle against Hitler's barbarism, was for the most part more eager to deal with Pétain's collaborationist regime than with what Secretary of State Cordell Hull called de Gaulle's "so-called Free French" movement.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780801862861
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date: 04/03/2000
Pages: 216
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.77(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Jeffrey Mehlman is University Professor at Boston University and the author, most recently, of Walter Benjamin for Children: An Essay on His Radio Years and Genealogies of the Text: Literature, Psychoanalysis, and Politics in Modern France.

Table of Contents

1Dress Rehearsal11
2The New Yorker Petain and the 1870 Paradigm19
3Endgame: Maeterlinck in Manhattan45
4Denis de Rougemont: New York Gnostic61
5Simone Weil: Letters from Harlem85
6George Steiner at the Lycee Francais104
7Louis Rougier and the "Petain-Churchill Agreement"117
8Saint-Exupery: Between Breton and Maritain145
9Saint-John Perse: Discontinuities165
10Levi-Strauss and the Birth of Structuralism181
11Coda: Normandie's List197

What People are Saying About This

Arthur Goldhammer

A brilliant, original, and challenging work. There is quite simply no other work like it, because Mehlman works on two levels at once, historical and metaphysical.

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