Synopses & Reviews
Born to a Jewish family in Paris in 1925, Claude Lanzmanns first encounter with radicalism was as part of the Resistance during the Nazi occupation. He and his father were soldiers of the underground until the end of the war, smuggling arms and making raids on the German army. After the liberation of France, he studied philosophy at the Sorbonne, making money by dressing as a priest and collecting donations and by stealing books from bookshops. It was in Paris that he met Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. It was a life-changing meeting. The young Lanzmann began a seven-year affair with the older de Beauvoir. He became the editor of Sartres political-literary journal, Les Temps Modernes—a position that he holds to this day—and came to know the most important literary and philosophical figures of postwar France. And all this before he was thirty years old.
Written in precise, rich prose of rare beauty, organized—like human memory—in interconnected fragments that eschew conventional chronology, and describing in detail the making of his seminal film Shoah, The Patagonian Hare is a work of art, more significant and more ambitious than mere memoir. In it, Lanzmann has created a love song to life balanced by the eye of a true auteur.
"This remarkable debut by Lanzmann, world-renowned French journalist and film director most celebrated for his epic nine-and-a-half hour Holocaust documentary Shoah, illuminates the depth and breadth of a man's life in the context of enormous historical change and upheaval. His guiding voice weaves through events both comedic and grave, for just as his film is an oral history of the Holocaust, his memoir is an oral recollection of his life, told in great spurts of vocal energy (the text was dictated to assistants), fluid in time and chronology, and vividly detailed. Lanzmann discusses his work as a French resistance fighter during WWII, stealing philosophy books as a student in Paris, his relationship with Sartre and his affair with Simone de Beauvoir, and his sister's suicide. Lanzmann candidly reveals all, 'simply to tell the truth.' For 'Where, if not in this book,' he asks, 'will it be told?' The incredible determination required to make Shoah speaks to Lanzmann's extraordinary artistic and humane vision: 'I only obeyed my own rules, not yielding to the constraints of time or money, or those people who... pressed me to finish. But that was how I was.' This captivating and inspiring memoir attests to the fact that Lanzmann unyieldingly remains an individual dedicated to telling stories that matter, including his own.
Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Praise for The Patagonian Hare
“His is an extraordinary life . . . It is a rumbustious, engaging, frustrating, joyous rampage through some of the most significant chapters of postwar history in the company of an unforgettable man.” —David Cesarani, Literary Review
“As the 21st century takes a new and frightening shape, it is well to remember the strange heroism of men like Lanzmann, who opposed the darkest forces of the 20th century with an unmitigated belief in freedom, and not just freedom of belief.” —Andrew Hussey, The Independent
“A work of art . . . [Lanzmann] has lived every moment the way one writes a story or directs a film: completely, intensely . . . [The Patagonian Hare is] a true literary and historic event.” —Le Monde
“Lanzmann reminds us in these pages that he is a tremendous writer.” —Marianne
“This book isnt a compendium of memories . . . Its a great, epic work, heartbreaking and full of enthusiasm. The writing dances, shudders, trembles and melts voluptuously. It has that quality of changing your life.” —Le Point
“Without a doubt, one of the masterpieces of world literature.” —Die Welt
“A great book.” —Joan de Sagarra, La Vanguardia
“This book is a masterpiece, both picaresque and serious, funny and tragic.” —Bernard-Henri Lévy, Le Point
“Instead of going to the beach, putting on a bathing suit and going swimming, or going to the movies, I stay in my room and read a book, and I swim in the sea of wisdom. Right now, I am reading a magnificent book by Claude Lanzmann . . . Reading [The Patagonian Hare] gives me the greatest pleasure in life.” —Shimon Peres, Israel Hayom
“A masterpiece of our time. The suggestive power of this evocation of the past century is without precedent.” —Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung
“We follow Lanzmanns adventures as if they came from a novel by London, Hemingway or Kessel.” —Max Gallo, Le Figaro
“Half a century of fury, tears and hopes related by one of the most important witnesses of our time.” —LExpress
“Claude Lanzmann recounts our age with a vitality and virtuosity rarely seen.” —Le Magazine Littéraire
“Even if I lived a hundred lives, I still wouldnt be exhausted.” These words capture the intensity of the experiences of Claude Lanzmann, a man whose acts have always been a negation of resignation: a member of the French Resistance at sixteen, a friend to Jean-Paul Sartre and a lover to Simone de Beauvoir, and the director of movies including one of the most important films in the history of cinema, Shoah.
In these pages, Lanzmann composes a hymn to life that flows from memory yet has the rhythm of a novel, as tumultuous as it is energetic. The Patagonian Hare is the story of a man who has searched at every moment for existential adventure, who has committed himself deeply to what he believes in, and who has made his life a battle.
The Patagonian Hare, a number-one bestseller in France, has been translated into Spanish, German, Italian, Hebrew, Polish, Dutch, and Portuguese. Filmmaker Claude Lanzmanns brilliant memoir has been widely acclaimed as a masterpiece, was hailed as “a true literary and historic event” in the pages of Le Monde, and was awarded the prestigious Welt-Literaturpreis in Germany.
About the Author
Claude Lanzmann is an eighty-four-year-old French journalist, political commentator, and filmmaker whose most renowned work is the classic nine-and-a-half-hour documentary Shoah (1985), an oral history of the Holocaust that is considered to be the foremost film on the subject. Lanzmann is chief editor of Les Temps Modernes, which was founded by Jean- Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. The Patagonian Hare is his first book.