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A French Tragedy: Scenes of Civil War, Summer 1944 (Contemporary French Culture & Society) [Hardcover]

Tzvetan Todorov , Mary Byrd Kelly
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Aug 1996 Contemporary French Culture & Society
As Allied troops landed in Normandy in 1944, members of the local French Resistance in the small town of Saint-Amand-Montrond embarked on an ill-fated attempt to liberate their town. Based on noble but politically questionable motives, and failing to inspire broader support, the incident quickly devolved from confrontation to a stand-off and ultimately to a tragedy. Resistance forces took and subsequently executed hostages; their opponents, the milice - collaborationist French police - and German soldiers rounded up 70 Jewish adults and children in retaliation and put many to a horrible death. Eminent literary and cultural critic Tzvetan Todorov examines the episode as history but also as a moral paradigm. Finding similar failures on both sides, he also cites a qualitative difference between the two, an irreducible asymmetry, which resides in their ideals, in totalitarianism versus democracy. Suspenseful, compelling, and uncompromisingly honest, A French Tragedy goes beyond the events themselves to ponder the nature of sacrifice, of suffering, and of individual responsibility in a world where civil war still thrives.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Dartmouth College; 1st Ed.(U.S.) edition (Aug 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0874517478
  • ISBN-13: 978-0874517477
  • Product Dimensions: 22.2 x 15.1 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 652,094 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3.0 out of 5 stars Spoiled by a clanking translation 29 Jun 2004
Five pages into this little book I was beginning to get very irritated with the laboured translation. Completed without any feel for the rhythm of the story Tzodorov tells, it is an ungainly piece of work and too literal by half. There is no feeling for what Todorov is trying to relate and I am sorry to say that this man's usual brilliance is hidden under a cumbersome translation that does the pathos and drama of the story no justice. A poor comparison in terms of the translation to the excellent "Hope and Memory" -- although perseverance is recommended to complete the recounting of the episode -- a heartbreaking dissection of stupidity and ambition, treachery and cruelty.
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