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Words of the Week: Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Saint-Exupery-Lettre-a-un-otage
Toi si Français, je te sens deux fois en péril de mort, parce que Français, et parce que juif.

(My attempt at a translation: You who are so French, I sense that you are doubly in mortal danger, because you are a Frenchman, and because you are a Jew.)

Source: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Lettre à un otage (“Letter to a Hostage”), first published in 1943. (My copy lists a 1944 copyright.)

There’s more about this text, and Saint-Exupéry’s friendship with Léon Werth, the titular though never-named hostage, in Stacy Schiff’s Saint-Exupéry biography. (Werth is the same friend to whom Saint-Exupéry dedicated Le Petit Prince.) I am currently awaiting the arrival of one of Werth‘s works about the wartime period, 33 Jours.

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Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat

Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

Every Friday morning My Machberet presents an assortment of Jewish-interest links, primarily of the literary variety.

  • Rabbi David Wolpe: “I’m often asked to recommend books. Here are five unique and powerful modern works that you may have missed or forgotten. These works will enrich, elevate and educate any Jew, indeed any human being.”
  • Moment magazine is looking for a part-time online editor.
  • Fathom shares an interview with Sayed Kashua, “one of the [Israel]‘s most successful writers.” (A lot to think about here–but I admit getting stuck with the suggestion that Gaza is currently “occupied” by Israel.)
  • I’ve got other plans, but if I were free to attend, I’d be interested in hearing Ruth Wisse speak about Jacob Glatstein at YIVO on March 4.
  • “As I discovered while conducting dissertation research on this topic, the ‘belle Juive’ (beautiful Jewess) trope was to early 19th-century French literature something like what the ‘shiksa’ would become for American Jewish writers: an exotic object of desire, but also someone one might marry to affirm progressive, universalist ideals.” Phoebe Maltz Bovy offers some interesting thoughts on “the intermarriage script.”
  • Shabbat shalom.

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    My Year In Jewish Books

    StarFor the past two years, I’ve found it useful (and kind of fun) to look back on “my year in Jewish books.” So, borrowing some of the same introductory wording, I’m going to attempt to do something similar for 2013, even if Hanukkah came so early this year that this 2013 iteration lacks the same usefulness a gift-inspiration guide.

    Reviewing my reading for 2013 (thank you, Goodreads!), I can see that I do not and would not ever limit my reading to “Jewish books” exclusively. (By the way, in case you haven’t heard me say this before, I define “Jewish books” as books with substantive Jewish content. In my view, non-Jewish authors can write “Jewish books.” And Jewish authors can write books that don’t strike me as particularly Jewish.)

    But this year, as usual, I did read quite a few books that fall within the “Jewish book” category. And, as an advocate for Jewish literature, I’m proud of that.

    Below, you will find these books presented in the order in which I read them. Please note that, where appropriate, I have included links to reviews, essays, and newsy items I have written; interviews I have conducted; and the odd blog post. I have also disclosed how I obtained each book: P (purchase), R (complimentary review copy/complimentary seminar copy), L (library). Continue reading ›

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    From My Bookshelf: Leon Blum’s “Lettres de Buchenwald”

    LBlumdocumentaryThanks to my academic background in modern French history, I was delighted when the Generations of the Shoah International (GSI) Book/Film Discussion Group announced its December 2012 guests: Jean Bodon and Antoine Malamoud, who would discuss the documentary Léon Blum: For All Mankind. Bodon directed the film; Malamoud is Blum’s great-grandson.

    I was familiar with much of Blum’s story, especially his status as France’s first Jewish premier, most remembered for leading the Popular Front that came to power in 1936. But the fine documentary—which I was able to watch easily through Amazon Prime; you can also find it on Netflix—covers one piece of Blum’s story that I am ashamed to admit I did not recall clearly at all: Blum was arrested by the Vichy government in 1940 and imprisoned in France for nearly three years, after which he was transferred to German custody. In April 1943, he was moved to a detention site just outside the main camp at Buchenwald, where he remained until 1945. When Antoine Malamoud pointed out that letters that Blum wrote from his German detention to his son Robert (Malamoud’s grandfather, who was a French prisoner-of-war in Germany at the time) have been collected and published, as Lettres de Buchenwald, I was intrigued.

    Continue reading ›

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    My Year in Jewish Books (2012 edition)

    Last year, I found it useful (and kind of fun) to look back on “my year in Jewish books.” So, borrowing some of the same introductory wording, I’m going to attempt to do something similar for 2012.

    Reviewing my reading for 2012 (thank you, Goodreads!), I can see that I do not and would not ever limit my reading to “Jewish books” exclusively. (By the way, I define “Jewish books” as books with substantive Jewish content/themes. In my view, non-Jewish authors can write “Jewish books.” And Jewish authors can write books that don’t strike me as particularly Jewish. I read several of those books this year, too.)

    But this year, as usual, I did read quite a few books that fall within the “Jewish book” category. And, as an advocate for Jewish literature, I’m proud of that.

    Below, you will find these books presented in the order in which I read them. Continue reading ›

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