On Leave (Penguin Hardback Classics)

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9780141393872: On Leave (Penguin Hardback Classics)

A lost classic lays bare the darkest moment of France's post-war history

First published in Paris in 1957, as France's engagement in Algeria became ever more bloody, On Leave received a handful of reviews and soon disappeared from view. Through David Bellos's translation, this lost classic has been rediscovered. Spare, forceful and moving, the novel describes a week in the lives of a sergeant, a corporal and a private, home on leave in Paris. Full of sympathy and feeling, informed by the many hours Daniel Anselme spent talking to conscripts in Paris, On Leave is a timeless evocation of what the history books can never record: the shame and terror felt by men returning home from war.

Daniel Anselme was born Daniel Rabinovitch in 1927, and adopted the name Anselme while in the French Resistance with his father. He traveled widely as a journalist, and was known as a raconteur and habitué of Left Bank cafés. He published his first novel On Leave in 1957, a second, Relations, in 1964, and a semiautobiographical account of his wartime experiences called The Secret Companion in 1984. He was also one of the leaders of Solidarity Radio in Paris. He died in 1989.

David Bellos is Director of the Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication at Princeton University, where he is also Professor of French and Comparative Literature. He has won many awards for his translations of Georges Perec, Ismail Kadare and others, including the Man Booker Translator Award, and received the Prix Goncourt de la biographie for his book on Perec.

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Review:

In fiction, we usually have to wait until long after the guns fall silent to hear such stories. Yet this precious act of literary reclamation on the part of Penguin Classics reveals a novel with a solar-plexus punch that was written from the dark heart of conflict (Boyd Tonkin Independent)

A rare find . . . a compelling read . . . the book captures with great precision the sense that all soldiers must feel on returning from the front: that their homeland is no longer home . . . David Bellos is not only one of the best translators in the world - and he is here at his casually brilliant best with a fluent and tangy scholarship - but is also a fine literary scholar. In excavating this forgotten and ignored book and restoring it to its proper context, he has quietly but irrevocably shifted our historical knowledge of what really went on in Paris during the Algerian conflict (Andrew Hussey Literary Review)

Anselme's 1957 On Leave - now translated by the estimable David Bellos - follows three soldiers in Paris on a 10-day leave. In style and particularly in spirit, it resembles the early works of Aldous Huxley ( Crome Yellow or Antic Hay), with their combination of lightness and intellect, their strong ethics and unexpected tenderness ( New York Times)

About the Author:

Daniel Anselme was born Daniel Rabinovitch in 1927, and adopted the name Anselme while in the French Resistance with his father. He traveled widely as a journalist, and was known as a raconteur and habitué of Left Bank cafés. He published his first novel On Leave in 1957, a second, Relations, in 1964, and a semiautobiographical account of his wartime experiences called The Secret Companion in 1984. He was also one of the leaders of Solidarity Radio in Paris. He died in 1989.

David Bellos is Director of the Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication at Princeton University, where he is also Professor of French and Comparative Literature. He has won many awards for his translations of Georges Perec, Ismail Kadare and others, including the Man Booker International Translator's Award, and received the Prix Goncourt de la biographie for his life of Perec.

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Daniel Anselme
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