Dreaming in French: The Paris Years of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Susan Sontag, and Angela Davis

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9780226424385: Dreaming in French: The Paris Years of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Susan Sontag, and Angela Davis
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A year in Paris...Since World War II, countless American students have been lured by that vision - and been transformed by their sojourn in the City of Light. "Dreaming in French" tells three stories of that experience, and how it changed the lives of three extraordinary American women. All three women would go on to become icons, key figures in American cultural, intellectual, and political life, but when they embarked for France, they were young, little known, uncertain about their future, and drawn to the culture, sophistication, and drama that only Paris could offer. Yet their backgrounds and their dreams couldn't have been more different. Jacqueline Bouvier was a twenty-year-old debutante, a Catholic girl from a wealthy East Coast family. Susan Sontag was twenty-four, a precocious Jewish intellectual from a North Hollywood family of modest means, and Paris was a refuge from motherhood, a failing marriage, and graduate work in philosophy at Oxford. Angela Davis, a French major at Brandeis from a prominent African American family in Birmingham, Alabama, found herself the only black student in her year abroad program - in a summer when all the news from Birmingham was of unprecedented racial violence. Kaplan takes readers into the lives, hopes, and ambitions of these young women, tracing their paths to Paris and tracking the discoveries, intellectual adventures, friendships, and loves that they found there. For all three women, France was far from a passing fancy; rather, Kaplan shows, the year abroad continued to influence them, a significant part of their intellectual and cultural makeup, for the rest of their lives. No one who has ever dreamed of Paris should miss it. Jackie Kennedy carried her love of France to the White House and to her later career as a book editor, bringing her cultural and linguistic fluency to everything from art and diplomacy to fashion and historic restoration-to the extent that many, including Jackie herself, worried that she might seem "too French." Sontag found in France a model for the life of the mind that she was determined to lead; the intellectual world she observed from afar during that first year in Paris inspired her most important work and remained a key influence-to be grappled with, explored, and transcended-the rest of her life. Davis, meanwhile, found that her Parisian vantage strengthened her sense of political exile from racism at home and brought a sense of solidarity with the burgeoning Algerian independence movement. For her, Paris was a city of political commitment, activism, and militancy, qualities that would deeply inform her own revolutionary agenda and soon make her a hero to the French writers she had once studied. Kaplan, whose own junior year abroad played a prominent role in her classic memoir, French Lessons, spins these three quite different stories into one evocative biography, brimming with the ferment and yearnings of youth and shot through with the knowledge of how a single year-and a magical city-can change a whole life.

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Review:

"Alice Kaplan''s triple portrait of three iconic mid-century American women, dazzles beyond our evergreen fascination with the wildly disparate lives of Jacqueline Bouvier, Susan Sontag and Angela Davis. Her lens--the ''junior year abroad''--proves to be a brilliantly revealing cultural magnifying glass. With her meticulous scholarship, a novelist''s gimlet eye for detail and the sheer grace of her writing, Kaplan has given us an original and now essential model of that enduring American narrative--the American in Paris."--Patricia Hampl, author of I Could Tell You Stories --Patricia Hampl, author of I Could Tell You Stories

"An enduring group profile of three influential yet completely different American women, for each of whom Paris played a short but transformative role, over three tumultuous decades. . . . The much-admired Kaplan focuses sharply on three women of successive generations, providing a keen feminist-cultural picture of Paris's enduring, if varied, impact."

--Publishers Weekly "starred review "

"Alice Kaplan's triple portrait of three iconic mid-century American women, dazzles beyond our evergreen fascination with the wildly disparate lives of Jacqueline Bouvier, Susan Sontag and Angela Davis. Her lens--the 'junior year abroad'--proves to be a brilliantly revealing cultural magnifying glass. With her meticulous scholarship, a novelist's gimlet eye for detail and the sheer grace of her writing, Kaplan has given us an original and now essential model of that enduring American narrative--the American in Paris."--Patricia Hampl "author of I Could Tell You Stories "

"Alice Kaplan beautifully describes the intricate mixture of lust and embarrassment and voyeurism and submission and pride involved in immersing oneself in another language. . . . This girl's own story---of a daughter, a spy in the house of French, a teacher and scholar-is imbued with a sense of the multiplicity of identity, and it gracefully tells us what Kaplan says French has taught her: 'There is more than one way to speak.' "

--Lisa Cohen "Voice Literary Supplement "

"Alice Kaplan has written a wonderful book, as accessible as light fiction and as polished and layered as poetry. . . . The precision and intensity of Kaplan's presentation of self in everyday life makes for an extraordinary literary achieve- ment."--Graham Fraser "Toronto Globe and Mail "

"An uncommonly forthright and concise piece of autobiogra- phy. Kaplan has shown that university professors, too, can have a past worth telling, that the subjects they teach may mean far more to them than any student could begin to guess."--John Sturrock "London Review of Books "

"Born a Jewish daughter of the American Midwest, Alice Kaplan became a professor of French and an expert on the literature of French fascism. French Lessons is the story of her cultural odyssey, a brave attempt to articulate the compulsions that drove her to embrace foreignness in order to become truly herself. . . . Told in a 'staccato Midwestern style, ' her story of becoming French is arrestingly all-American."--Arthur Goldhammer "Washington Post Book World "

"This original, artful, engaging book belongs to an evolving genre of postmodern intellectual autobiography. Telling her story about a girl from the midwest who learned to speak perfect French, a student of deconstruction who became intrigued by fascism, Alice Kaplan writes insightfully also about language, memory, politics, and writing. Kaplan's father was a lawyer at the Nuremberg trials who died when she was only seven: she recalls the frightening photographs of concentration camp victims she found among his papers. The glamour of otherness and the allure of evil-as well as the characters of various mentors, meals, lovers, and students- are the subjects of this witty and insightful memoir."--Rachel M. Brownstein, author of Becoming a Heroine

"This is the most engaging new bildungsroman I have read in years-and especially because the bildung in question, the learning of French by a young American woman, brings with it such an amazing range of personal drama of modern and contemporary political and cultural history."--R. W. B. Lewis

"A lovely book. . . . From the childhood learning of words from her siblings, to her professorship at Duke, she has catalogued her desire to speak a foreign language and thereby to become something foreign and alluring herself."--Fred Turner "Boston Phoenix "

About the Author:

Alice Kaplan is the author of French Lessons: A Memoir, The Collaborator: The Trial and Execution of Robert Brasillach, which was a finalist for the National Book Award; and The Interpreter.

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Book Description The University of Chicago Press, United States, 2012. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. A year in Paris.Since World War II, countless American students have been lured by that vision - and been transformed by their sojourn in the City of Light. Dreaming in French tells three stories of that experience, and how it changed the lives of three extraordinary American women. All three women would go on to become icons, key figures in American cultural, intellectual, and political life, but when they embarked for France, they were young, little known, uncertain about their future, and drawn to the culture, sophistication, and drama that only Paris could offer. Yet their backgrounds and their dreams couldn t have been more different. Jacqueline Bouvier was a twenty-year-old debutante, a Catholic girl from a wealthy East Coast family. Susan Sontag was twenty-four, a precocious Jewish intellectual from a North Hollywood family of modest means, and Paris was a refuge from motherhood, a failing marriage, and graduate work in philosophy at Oxford. Angela Davis, a French major at Brandeis from a prominent African American family in Birmingham, Alabama, found herself the only black student in her year abroad program - in a summer when all the news from Birmingham was of unprecedented racial violence. Kaplan takes readers into the lives, hopes, and ambitions of these young women, tracing their paths to Paris and tracking the discoveries, intellectual adventures, friendships, and loves that they found there. For all three women, France was far from a passing fancy; rather, Kaplan shows, the year abroad continued to influence them, a significant part of their intellectual and cultural makeup, for the rest of their lives. No one who has ever dreamed of Paris should miss it. Jackie Kennedy carried her love of France to the White House and to her later career as a book editor, bringing her cultural and linguistic fluency to everything from art and diplomacy to fashion and historic restoration-to the extent that many, including Jackie herself, worried that she might seem too French. Sontag found in France a model for the life of the mind that she was determined to lead; the intellectual world she observed from afar during that first year in Paris inspired her most important work and remained a key influence-to be grappled with, explored, and transcended-the rest of her life. Davis, meanwhile, found that her Parisian vantage strengthened her sense of political exile from racism at home and brought a sense of solidarity with the burgeoning Algerian independence movement. For her, Paris was a city of political commitment, activism, and militancy, qualities that would deeply inform her own revolutionary agenda and soon make her a hero to the French writers she had once studied. Kaplan, whose own junior year abroad played a prominent role in her classic memoir, French Lessons, spins these three quite different stories into one evocative biography, brimming with the ferment and yearnings of youth and shot through with the knowledge of how a single year-and a magical city-can change a whole life. Seller Inventory # BTE9780226424385

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