- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reprint edition (August 1, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0190495847
- ISBN-13: 978-0190495848
- Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 1 x 6.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 28 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #226,346 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Diary of the Dark Years, 1940-1944: Collaboration, Resistance, and Daily Life in Occupied Paris Reprint Edition
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"This first English translation of Guéhenno's diary offers a new and important lens through which to understand the experience of foreign occupation. Those who teach about the occupation through English-language texts and their students will warmly welcome this edition of the diary. So will a wider audience of readers who have an interest in French history and culture, especially those who are eager to know more about war and occupation from a personal, closely observed, grass roots perspective."--Sandra Ott, H-France
"A model writer and intellectual who neither collaborated nor accommodated the enemy, [Guéhenno] refused to publish a single word as long as his country was under Nazi control. A leading essayist of the Popular Front, regularly skewered by the far right, he vowed, as of July 1940, to confine his thoughts and feelings to a private journal. It is a mystery why 'Diary of the Dark Years, 1940-1944,' first published in 1947 and still a standard reference in France, is only now appearing in English in a fine translation by David Ball....Mr. Ball, who has succeeded in giving Guéhenno's grand diction the emotional charge it has in the original French, has provided extensive notes, as well as a biographical dictionary, so that no reference is left obscure."--The New York Times
"Compelling....[C]risply translated, a fascinating blend of inward monologue and acute exterior observations."--Wall Street Journal
"I was struck repeatedly by the beauty, the passion, the elegance of Guéhenno's words as rendered in English....For today's readers, Diary of the Dark Years, 1940-1944 is not just a cautionary tale about freedom lost but a thought-provoking story of how an abiding love of country and determined courage can help regain it."--Chicago Tribune
"Every once in a while, however, an extraordinary document comes along to remind us that the books matter. The diary kept by the French writer and critic Jean Guéhenno during the German occupation of France from 1940 to 1944 is one such document....[A] genuinely important and enthralling book, and its publication in English in an excellent, fluid, and expertly annotated translation by David Ball is a welcome and long overdue event."--The New Republic
"This first English translation flows easily, greatly aided by both a biographical dictionary and Ball's explanatory footnotes regarding historical events. Easily adaptable for class/group readings, Guéhenno's diary, first published in 1947, emotionally depicts WWII through his despair over France's invasion; wry observations of the 'gray men' populating the darkened, desolate city; exhaustion and, ultimately, joy."--Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Ball's work...is exemplary. Ball does full justice to the powerful prose of Guéhenno, a highly principled man of letters and teacher of literature who refused to published a single line as long as his country endured 'the anguish of servitude'....Essential."--CHOICE
"[A] significant book, now made accessible to an anglophone audience in what is a powerful translation....[Diary of the Dark Years] is a rewarding work worth savouring slowly, as you dip into the life and mind of Jean Guéhenno."--H-France
About the Author
Jean Guéhenno was a French writer and intellectual.
David Ball is Professor Emeritus of French and Comparative Literature, Smith College.
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Underlying it all, is his own personal struggle though four long years. This is the life of a man, with his own limitations, who maintains his spirit; maintains his hope. One of the most wonderful images presented are his descriptions of how Parisians dealt with their invaders. They looked right through them...as though they were invisible. They avoided all eye contact. And the typically vibrant, true-to-itself streets, were silent and empty.
I can understand why this book, over the years, has had special meaning to the French. France became itself again, only after the occupation ended. Guehenno's book is about freedom, and what men must do to deserve it.
This book is a nice complement to Joachim Fest's Not I: Memoirs of a German Childhood, as both give testimony to the difficulty of maintaining decency and a credible sense of self-worth during horrendous and threatening conditions. Fest, in 'Not I', quotes his father as saying, "One sometimes has to keep one's head down, but try not to look shorter as a result."
Guehenno writes this beautiful sentence, "A great book is a rhythm that imposes itself on the reader: the reader necessarily adopts the rhythm without even realizing it, the way one follows a companion's steps" (p. 199). As readers we are lucky to have a companion of Guehenno's caliber. Take a walk with him.
Addendum 1/31/15: Looking again at some of the other reviews, there are several comments regarding the absence of entries on the physical conditions in Paris by Guehenno. This is certainly true, because it was not his intent. He is describing his intellectual experience. As Gerhard Nebel wrote, "... the last weapon remaining to the individual defending his freedom" was the diary.
Page after page, his pain and disgust at the tyranny he was forced to endure comes out forcefully and completely. His own countrymen, in their foolishness disgust him as much the Nazi overlords who inhabit his world.
The writing is best described as amazing in its beauty.
If you're interested in France, WWll, or human affairs, this is a book you must read. You'll never forget it.
I was hoping to learn more about the diarist's life after the liberation of Paris. But the diary ended with the liberation of Paris in August 1945. It would have been interesting to have a personal account of happenings after liberation, and the downfall of the Vichy regime.
I would not recommend this book to a reader who wants details of Life in Occupied France. However if one is interested in a response to self-imposed exile, it is an interesting read.
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