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

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

ISBN13: 9780226424385
ISBN10: 0226424383
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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 couldnt 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. 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 Algerian independence. 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. No one who has ever dreamed of Paris should miss it.

Review:

"This is 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. Jacqueline Bouvier — who would become Vogue's It Girl and then, in Kaplan's words, 'the eternal First Lady' — found in 1949 Paris the aesthetics, pleasures, and discipline that would serve her all her life. In 1957, Susan Sontag hit the Parisian ground running from her husband and five-year-old son in America to imbibe the freedoms of Europe. On hand during the breakdown of the old colonial dispensation, Sontag would even be buried in Paris. Angela Davis, like Miss Bouvier, traveled with a student group. In a French resort shortly before reaching Paris, on a late-summer day in 1963, she learned of the Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Ala., her hometown. Her ever-increasing radicalization back in the U.S. was applauded by myriad French intellectuals. The much-admired Kaplan (French Lessons: A Memoir) focuses sharply on three women of successive generations, providing a keen feminist-cultural picture of Paris's enduring, if varied, impact. 27 b&w photos. Agent: Marly Rusoff Agency." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Alice Kaplan is the author of French Lessons: A Memoir, The Collaborator, The Interpreter, and Dreaming in French: The Paris Years of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Susan Sontag, and Angela Davis, and the translator of OK, Joe, The Difficulty of Being a Dog, A Box of Photographs, and Palace of Books. Her books have been twice nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Awards, once for the National Book Award, and she is a winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She holds the John M. Musser chair in French literature at Yale. She lives in Guilford, Connecticut.

Table of Contents

List of Photographs

Introduction

1. Jacqueline Bouvier: 1949-1950

2. Jacqueline Bouvier: The Return

3. Susan Sontag: 1957-1958

4. Susan Sontag: The Return

5. Angela Davis: 1963-1964

6. Angela Davis: The Return

Conclusion

A Note on Sources

Notes

Acknowledgments

Index

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Irma Wolfson, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by Irma Wolfson)
Three accomplished young women from three different decades are portrayed through the lens of their experiences in France in their formative collegiate or post-collegiate years. Alice Kaplan sketches the social, political, intellectual, and personal backgrounds that led Jacqueline Kennedy, Susan Sontag, and Angela Davis to make prolonged stays in France (mostly, but not exclusively Paris), and then extends her portrayals through the remainder of their active lives, tracing the influence of their French experiences as they matured. Kaplan, who wrote her own memoir of life in France, handles both her biographical material and the French material with confidence, making it easy for the reader who may be familiar with the outlines of each woman's life to understand the French milieu in which these women found themselves at the cusp of their adulthood.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780226424385
Author:
Kaplan, Alice
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Author:
Kaplan, Alice Yaeger
Subject:
United States - 20th Century
Subject:
Biography-Literary
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
20120431
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

Biography » Literary
History and Social Science » Europe » France » Post World War II
History and Social Science » US History » 20th Century » General
History and Social Science » World History » France » General
Humanities » Literary Criticism » General

Dreaming in French: The Paris Years of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Susan Sontag, and Angela Davis Used Hardcover
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$18.50 In Stock
Product details 304 pages University of Chicago Press - English 9780226424385 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "This is 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. Jacqueline Bouvier — who would become Vogue's It Girl and then, in Kaplan's words, 'the eternal First Lady' — found in 1949 Paris the aesthetics, pleasures, and discipline that would serve her all her life. In 1957, Susan Sontag hit the Parisian ground running from her husband and five-year-old son in America to imbibe the freedoms of Europe. On hand during the breakdown of the old colonial dispensation, Sontag would even be buried in Paris. Angela Davis, like Miss Bouvier, traveled with a student group. In a French resort shortly before reaching Paris, on a late-summer day in 1963, she learned of the Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Ala., her hometown. Her ever-increasing radicalization back in the U.S. was applauded by myriad French intellectuals. The much-admired Kaplan (French Lessons: A Memoir) focuses sharply on three women of successive generations, providing a keen feminist-cultural picture of Paris's enduring, if varied, impact. 27 b&w photos. Agent: Marly Rusoff Agency." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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