Six Fridays: May 6, 13, 20, 27, and June 3, 10, from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. ET Online
Lecture and Discussion Based
Note: While this class is the second one with this title, the two classes are NOT sequential. (There is no need to have taken the first one before this class.)
In this class we will learn about “the dark years” of France under Nazi Occupation by reading and discussing three novels, and one journalistic account of the liberation of Paris. We’ll begin with The World at Night by Alan Furst. The protagonist of this espionage thriller is a filmmaker who finds himself drawn into murky ethical dilemmas—not to mention a kind of clandestine activity he is entirely unprepared for, and not really suited for either—in Occupied Paris. Through this story we will get a sense of how life changed, very suddenly, for Parisians in June 1940. Suite Francaise by Irene Némirovsky tragically unfinished masterpiece, begins with the chaotic exodus of Parisians in June 1940 as the occupying forces advance; and continues with a profound and incisive exploration of the complexities, heartaches, and dilemmas of life in rural France during the first year of the Occupation. Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay is the haunting story of an American journalist living in Paris who makes a terrible discovery in the course of writing a sixtieth anniversary article about the infamous 1942 roundup of the Jews in the Vélodrome d’Hiver—and finds her own life changed as a result. Finally we’ll read Is Paris Burning? the nail-bitingly tense (and true) story of how Paris was finally liberated in 1944, and how it was saved from destruction by the joint efforts of members of the French Resistance, the Allied and Free French forces, a Swedish ambassador, and even a German general. All four of these works will provide us with insight into just how hard those years were for the people who lived through them—and how important it was that the war be won in the end.
Class Reading Schedule:
May 6: Intro to class and discussion of Furst’s The World at Night
May 13: Discuss Nemirovsky's Suite Francaise (Part 1, Storm in June)
May 20: Discuss Nemirovsky's Suite Francaise (Part 2, Dolce)
May 27: Discuss de Rosnay's Sarah's Key
June 3: Discuss Collins and Lapierre's Is Paris Burning
June 10: Wrap-Up Session
The World at Night, by Alan Furst (9780375758584)
Suite Francaise, by Irene Nemirovsky (9781400096275)
Sarah's Key, by Tatiana de Rosnay (9780312370848)
Is Paris Burning by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre (9780446392259)
Recommended (but not required) auxiliary reading (or for use as additional resources on your bookshelf):
And the Show Went On: Cultural Life in Nazi-Occupies Paris, by Alan Riding (9780307389053)
When Paris Went Dark: The City of Light Under German Occupation, by Ronald Rosbottom (9780316217439)
Janet Hulstrand is a writer, editor, writing coach, and teacher who lives in Essoyes, a beautiful village in southern Champagne, on the border of Burgundy. She writes frequently for Bonjour Paris, France Today, and France Revisited, as well as for her blog, Writing from the Heart, Reading for the Road. She is the author of Demystifying the French: How to Love Them, and Make Them Love You, and is currently working on her memoir, A Long Way from Iowa. She has taught Paris: A Literary Adventure for the City University of New York since 1997, and literature and culture classes at Politics & Prose since 2011. Janet's 'insider' perspective, developed over more than 40 years of living, working, traveling, and teaching in France, as well as her perspective as a writer/editor, will lend depth and interest to our discussions.
REFUND POLICY: Please note that we can issue class refunds up until seven (7) days before the first class session.