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Silence of the Sea / Le Silence de la Mer: A Novel of French Resistance during the Second World War by 'Vercors' Paperback – April 1, 2002

4.4 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Not only a distinguished piece of fiction but also a brilliant piece of reporting on French resistance.” ―Life

“Saying something new about such a work was the central challenge faced by Brown and Stokes. To my surprise, they have succeeded in meeting this challenge.” ―French Review

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 102 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic; Reprint edition (April 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0854963782
  • ISBN-13: 978-0854963782
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.2 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #114,810 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I too read this book for a French class, but with a teacher who had read it dozens of times and was able to point out the subtle intracies of the author's words. This is a powerful novel of a German soldier who loves France, French culture, and anything passionate or beautiful. Ironically, he is in France as its conqueror, occupying the home of an uncle and his niece. The uncle and niece are kept nameless and faceless, but representing the masses of France. The solider is nameless, representing the Nazis and Germany. The soldier believes that Germany and France will marry each other, uniting two magnificent and rich cultures. Through Vercors' stunning work, we are able to see a human light in the WWII Nazis who have been portrayed throughout history as only monsters. We are able to witness France's WWII occupation through the eyes of one. This book will make you rethink your own views and prejudices. This is a book that will make you see WWII, Germany, and France through a different perspective. It will also make you look at love in a different way--romantic, parental, patriotic, and so fourth. Which is strongest, that is what the book skillfully explores. This book can at times be a bit overdone in the melordramatics dept., but it's worth plowing through (cliff notes might help), even "en français"!
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Format: Paperback
"Mais c'est la dernière! Nous ne nous batterons plus: nous nous marierons!"

But it's the last [war]. We will no longer fight each other; We will marry each other!

So says Werner von Ebrennac in this subtly moving novel. Werner is a Nazi soldier living with a Frenchman and his niece who voice their resistance to the occupation with silence. Werner loves France and all things French and harbors the belief that Germany has not come to harm France, but to "marry her." This was by far my favorite piece of literature I ever had to read in college. I have read it several times since, and each time I appreciate more and more the elegance and economy of the words, that beautiful sublety for which the French language is so famous. This book puts a human face on the Nazis and one ends up feeling very sorry for the francophile Werner. In comparing France and Germany (and perhaps himself and the niece) to Beauty and the Beast he says, "J'aimais surtout la Bête parce que je comprenais sa peine." I loved especially the Beast because I understood his pain." Every time I read it, I feel differently at the end. That's the beauty of this work, the silence that hides something, like the silence of the sea.

I recommend this version, especially if you are not confident in your French because the English translation is right there. Also, obscure words are translated at the bottom, words. Try it in French though because that language is so suited to a story such as this.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was a really good look at life in occupied France, but don't expect it to be Inglorious Basterds. It is a slow novel about passive resistance to Nazi occupation. It is about taking a stand and not talking to the enemy, not letting them become comfortable in their occupied home. There is no action, no guts, no gore or war or espionage. It is a small family living with a Nazi and enduring his presence.

None of the above is meant to be a criticism. I really enjoyed this short read. I'm just letting you know not to expect dead drops and French seductresses hiding poison in baguettes. It is a realistic, slow look at French occupation.

And did I mention short? It's a hundred pages soaking wet, and that's with both the French and English versions. It should be called a short story, a novella at most. Again, not a slam against this important and well written historical document. (Though maybe it is a slam against the publisher who didn't really inform me what to expect).

The writing is impactful, the characters are realistic and at times heart breaking. The resistance is pscyhological. It is a must read for any WWII buffs out there for sure, but expect a very short piece when you get it. You'll be done in a day.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I just have to say how much I love this book -- especially this edition which includes both the original French text, an English translation, a historical introduction, and a literary introduction. The original text is so poignant, with such simple words Vercors/Bruller was able to invoke such poignant themes of silence and resistance. The relationship between the niece and the soldier is one of such silent conflict, and the narration is an example of amazing storytelling. I do love both the 1949 and 2004 film versions, but for me the book is truly the best.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read the French and the English version. The French is better, more nuanced and more literate, but both are excellent. It is wonderful to have masterpieces of literature available in both translation and in the original language. Silence can be very telling and this book proves that point.
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Format: Paperback
I read this book in French in my French class; therefore, I cannot comment on the English version. The French version is poetic and inspiring. It deals with the interactions of individuals that all people can relate to. It is not a book of action--I would parallel Le Silence de la Mer to Tuesdays With Morrie--but it is full of ideas to reflect on. Not only is it a great book to reflect on philisophically, it is also a great book to put into the cultural perspective. It was one of the first books published after WWII, and, if I can remember correctly, it was first published as a midnight edition and circulated underground. If you are wanting to learn about the war from a French perspective as well as a German perspective, it is the right book to choose.
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