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The Patagonian Hare: A Memoir Hardcover – March 13, 2012

4.5 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“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 isn't a compendium of memories . . . It's 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 Lanzmann's 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.” ―L'Express

“Claude Lanzmann recounts our age with a vitality and virtuosity rarely seen.” ―Le Magazine Littéraire

About the Author

Claude Lanzmann is a French writer and the director of a number of films, including the nine-and-a-half-hour classic Shoah (1985), which was described by The Washington Post as "the film event of the century" and is regarded internationally as a historical and cinematic breakthrough. Lanzmann is chief editor of Les Temps Modernes, which was founded by Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (March 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374230048
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374230043
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.6 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,411,541 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Margaret Ann Simmons on March 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
MA Simmons-
The Patagonian Hare Claude Lanzmann
(Translator: Frank Wynne-Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Claude Lanzmann is in love with life and fascinated with death. A film director of the most influential documentary ever made, SHOAH, he knows what he is talking about when he "pleads in favor of life over death." In his book, a best seller throughout Europe, THE PATAGONIAN HARE he recounts the facts, the drama and the lyrics of his now, 87 years. The book was written in 2008. (It has been awaiting a good translator that has been found in Frank Wynne.) Lanzmann writes as a boy who was a student, an artist, a resistance fighter, a son, a Jew and as a man who is judgmental because he has seen and lived so very much. He has forgotten nothing.
Lanzmann is chief editor of LES TEMPS MODERNES, the very important magazine begun by Jean- Paul Sartre. He shared much of his life with Castor- Simone de Beauvoir, a co-founder. There is no index to THE PATAGONIAN HARE so if the reader is not sure of history's great and memorable figures -theatrical, literary, political, despicable-keep Wikipedia close by. Lanzmann knew everyone and loved many of them. His memories and the characters that embody them are monads flitting through and over the conscious years. Wars, putsches, murders, metempsychosis, love affairs, adventures- "everything was at once totally invented and absolutely true." Speaking of Frantz Fanon seemingly close to death, he says he was "the keeper of the truth, and of the truth as a secret. There was a secret in truth, and he held it." Lanzmann tells the secret in this memoir. On the tombstone of his mother's lover, the Serbian surrealist poet Monny de Boully, he quotes "Past, present, future, where have you gone..." They have gone into this roiling memoire.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This remarkable autobiography tells the story of the many lives of Claude Lanzmann. Most well-known for what is widely considered one of the greatest of all film documentaries 'Shoah' Lanzmann has also been a Resistance fighter, a journalist of international reputation, a leading French intellectual, the lover and close associate of Simone de Beauvoir, as well as intellectual ally of Jean - Paul Sartre, a passionate defender of Israel, an indefatigable opponent of the death penality, a defender of human rights. Lanzmann is a man of enormous energy and will power. He is also no small self- promoter and this also is an element in this work. But sometimes people of great Ego and Self- regard really are justified in their feeling about themselves. This does not mean Lanzmann is uncritical of himself, and he even dares in this work to reveal an incident of his own alleged cowardice when he fled and left his mother alone from a store where he thought the Nazi sympathizers there might identify him as Jewish. His scathing honesty also enters his analysis of his relationship with Sartre and also with De Beauvoir. He lived with her for seven years and maintained a loyal friendship with her to the end. As for the making of 'Shoah' Lanzmann explains much here including his decision to forego archives, music, any kind of background information and tell the story by allowing those who had been part of it to in a sense re- experience what they had gone through. It is impossible in a short review to touch upon the richness of this work , its power, its great entertainment value.
This is the story of one of those rare individuals who seems to live in one life many lives , and each of them remarkable.
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Format: Hardcover
When I began to read this book and found that it had been dictated to a friend who typed it directly into a computer, I anticipated that it might be unstructured and difficult to read: but, on the contrary, the book is highly readable, vivid and fluent. The translation by Frank Wynne (checked by the author) is superb; the English language is beautiful, almost poetic at times: "I remember two brothers... in the holy city of Safed in Galilee, two tall, thin men with blank faces, as silent as the shimmering stone of the steps on which they sat for hours in the sun without saying a word... These silent men were truly Israeli 'of old stock', they carried their country, its ancient and recent history, in their bones, their blood. Compared to them, I was an elf, I carried no weight...".
This memoir is a remarkable, masterly and very moving account of the life of a Jewish writer and later a film-maker born in 1925, who lived in Paris through the great cultural and political changes of our time. He was a friend of Sartre and partner for many years of Simone de Beauvoir and these friendships are wonderfully and sympathetically described. He is a man of huge energy and passionate friendships, especially for women, who are an important part of the story of his life. You will lose count of the women he loved, but surely never forget the hilarious episode in North Korea, where he fell for a nurse sent to give him injections of vitamin B12. This encounter is so vividly described and funny and yet at the same time touching. Indeed, the book is shot through with poignant episodes, reaching an incredible climax in the heartrending account of his filming for his 9-hour film 'Shoah' Shoah 4-DVD Set. Many times in the book one is moved deeply by the empathy and tenderness shown by this highly intellectual man.
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