- Hardcover: 246 pages
- Publisher: Cornell University Press (May 1, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 080143565X
- ISBN-13: 978-0801435652
- Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,579,152 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Mona Lisa's Escort: Andre Malraux and the Reinvention of French Culture
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From Publishers Weekly
In effect a sequel to Lebovics's earlier True France: The Wars Over Cultural Identity, 1900-1945, this volume carries his narrative into 1969, the end of de Gaulle's reign. Malraux left office with the French leader; de Gaulle had created the cabinet position of minister of culture especially for the novelist and ex-radical. Although Lebovics insists that he is not writing yet another biography of the charismatic and controversial author, he devotes a few chapters to the topic. But most of the book deals with Malraux's efforts, during his ministry, to regain European cultural primacy for a marginalized but proud postwar France. Playing a hands-on role as the "traveling salesman of French culture," Malraux escorted the Louvre's Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo to Washington and Tokyo respectively, used government resources to combat "the menacing spread of English in the world" and deployed France's ample cultural capital to retain a political edge in the postcolonial era. Still, Lebovics indicts Malraux as "a terrible administrator" who ran his office poorly, but at least permitted "plodding" and "largely tone-deaf civil servants" to do their jobs with their usual efficiency, so he could spend his time fronting for Gaullist concepts of grandeur. As France became less peasant and more bourgeois, Malraux and his ministry nationalized and homogenized French culture. How both the domestic and the international strategies were managed is a provocative story, and one can anticipate Lebovics's following it up by a third installment on Jack Lang, the most visible activist among Malraux's successors. 34 illustrations, 6 charts and graphs. (June)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.