The new rich want wine, cheese, and savoir vivre. Underemployed Frenchmen are glad to deliver it.
“Au revoir,” said the grocer.“Au revoir,” said the man in chic little canvas shoes. He had a bottle of champagne under one arm, and a bottle of “C’est la vie” chardonnay sauvignon blanc in hand. One elbow cradled a three-foot baguette. With an artful little pirouette, he piloted his cargo out the door. READ MORE >>
Picasso, Paris, and modern art in Vichy France
Can a weakly conceived and poorly executed exhibition be unforgettable? That is how I would describe my reaction to “Art at War”—“L’art en guerre: France 1938-1947”—the big show about French art during the German Occupation that I caught on the day it was closing in Paris; it opens next week at the Guggenheim Bilbao, where it runs through the summer. READ MORE >>
After the fighting, Mali's ethnic tensions continue to fester
GAO, Mali—On the first day that French airstrikes hit Gao in January, locals lynched one of their jihadi occupiers. At the edge of the city, near the airport, a strike on a double-cabbed Toyota pickup full of jihadi fighters left a sole survivor; he stole a donkey cart and made a slow dash for the city center. Danny, a broad-shouldered 25-year-old Songhai, the dark-skinned ethnic majority in Gao, slowly trailed the donkey cart on his motorbike, keeping enough distance to dodge bullets from the fighter’s AK-47 assault rifle and calling out to others to join him. READ MORE >>
Is the circus art?
Of all the varieties of underappreciated artist, circus acts might just have it the worst. Their technical virtuosity is taken for granted, but is what they do actually art? In 1893, Paul Cinquevalli, one of the greatest jugglers of all time, succeeded in catching an egg on a plate without breaking it. It took him nine years to learn the trick, and he soon dropped it from his routine, because audiences weren’t particularly impressed. READ MORE >>
Humiliation as a Way of Life
Around, let’s say, 1885 the young French poet Jules Laforgue was living in Berlin and scribbling observations in his notebooks. READ MORE >>
The fighting hits Timbuktu, but soccer's still on television.
DJENNE, Mali—The evening French and Malian troops entered the former Islamist stronghold of Timbuktu the men of Djenné, 200 miles to the southwest, gathered under the thatch awnings of mercantiles that flank the dusty square before the Sudanic clay steeples of the 12th-century Grande Mosque. They arranged overturned plastic buckets and rope chairs and wooden benches into impromptu amphitheaters in front of the small television sets they had balanced on cases of water bottles and soda and crackers. READ MORE >>
Not by shaming or prosecuting users, for starters
Last week, France embarked on a new frontier of hate speech prosecution: Twitter. READ MORE >>
It remains to be seen whether France's military intervention in Mali will be considered a military success, but it already seems possible to count it a political one. The war has earned support from across the French political spectrum, President François Hollande has garnered acclaim for his leadership, and the French public broadly supports the country's stated humanitarian mission. The intervention recalls the days when “la grande nation” laid claim to an ambitious international role, particularly within its former colonial empire.But in today's France, this portrait of unity and resolve is actually something of an aberration. Far from expressing a confident sense of mission, the French public has recently been more inclined to a sense of decline, malaise, paralysis and crisis. And it is at least partially justified. READ MORE >>
The Eagle Unbowed: Poland and the Poles in the Second World War By Halik Kochanski (Harvard University Press, 734 pp., $35) The Auschwitz Volunteer: Beyond Bravery By Witold Pilecki translated by Jarek Garliński (Aquila Polonica, 460 pp., $34.95) READ MORE >>