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Bérénice 1934-44

An Actress in Occupied Paris

by Isabelle Stibbe (Author)
Monographs VI, 234 Pages

Table Of Content

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Part One
  • · 1 ·
  • · 2 ·
  • · 3 ·
  • · 4 ·
  • · 5 ·
  • · 6 ·
  • · 7 ·
  • · 8 ·
  • · 9 ·
  • · 10 ·
  • · 11 ·
  • · 12 ·
  • · 13 ·
  • · 14 ·
  • · 15 ·
  • · 16 ·
  • · 17 ·
  • · 18 ·
  • · 19 ·
  • · 20 ·
  • Part Two
  • · 1 ·
  • · 2 ·
  • · 3 ·
  • · 4 ·
  • · 5 ·
  • · 6 ·
  • · 7 ·
  • · 8 ·
  • · 9 ·
  • · 10 ·
  • · 11 ·
  • · 12 ·
  • · 13 ·
  • · 14 ·
  • · 15 ·
  • · 16 ·
  • Part Three
  • · 1 ·
  • · 2 ·
  • · 3 ·
  • · 4 ·
  • · 5 ·
  • · 6 ·
  • · 7 ·
  • · 8 ·
  • · 9 ·
  • · 10 ·
  • · 11 ·
  • · 12 ·
  • · 13 ·
  • · 14 ·
  • Epilogue
  • About the Author
  • About the Translators

Isabelle Stibbe

Bérénice 1934–44

An Actress in Occupied Paris

Translated from French by
Zack Rogow and Renée Morel

Names: Stibbe, Isabelle, author.
Rogow, Zack, translator. | Morel, Renée, translator.
Title: Bérénice 1934–44: an actress in occupied Paris / by Isabelle Stibbe;
translated by Zack Rogow and Renée Morel.
Other titles: Bérénice 34–44
Description: New York: Peter Lang, 2019.
Identifiers: LCCN 2019002664 | ISBN 978-1-4331-6705-8 (paperback: alk. paper)
ISBN 978-1-4331-6707-2 (ebook pdf)
ISBN 978-1-4331-6708-9 (epub) | ISBN 978-1-4331-6709-6 (mobi)
Subjects: LCSH: Comédie-Française—Fiction.
France—History—German occupation, 1940–1945—Fiction.
Classification: LCC PQ2719.T53 B4713 2019 | DDC 843/.92—dc23
LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2019002664
DOI 10.3726/b15850

Bibliographic information published by Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek.
Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the “Deutsche Nationalbibliografie”; detailed bibliographic data are available on the Internet at http://dnb.d-nb.de/.

Original title: Bérénice 34–44
© Serge Safran Editeur, 2012
Published by arrangement with Agence littéraire Astier-Pécher
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

© 2019 Zack Rogow and Renée Morel

Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., New York
29 Broadway, 18th floor, New York, NY 10006
www.peterlang.com

All rights reserved.
Reprint or reproduction, even partially, in all forms such as microfilm, xerography, microfiche, microcard, and offset strictly prohibited.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)/EDITOR(S)

Isabelle Stibbe is an important new voice in French fiction. She has served as director of publications at the Comédie- Française and the Grand Palais, and as secretary general of the Athénée Théâtre Louis-Jouvet. Stibbe is the theater critic for the magazine La Terrasse. This is her first novel, published to critical acclaim in 2013.

ABOUT THE BOOK

The winner of nine literary awards in France, including the Prix Simone Veil, celebrating a woman of action, Bérénice 1934–44: An Actress in Occupied Paris is Isabelle Stibbe’s poignant debut novel. Now translated into English by Zack Rogow and Renée Morel, Bérénice 1934–44 reveals a young woman’s struggle to fulfill her career aspirations while concealing herself in war-torn France.

Bérénice yearns to become an actress, but her parents insist that career is not proper for a girl. She defies her Jewish family to become the leading younger actress in the Comédie-Française, France’s most renowned theater, right when the Nazis occupy France. Bérénice hides her true identity and last name to avoid detection. Living in a world without tolerance and torn between two lovers, Bérénice must choose between her passion for the stage, and her allegiance to freedom and to her Jewish heritage.

THIS EBOOK CAN BE CITED

This edition of the eBook can be cited. To enable this we have marked the start and end of a page. In cases where a word straddles a page break, the marker is placed inside the word at exactly the same position as in the physical book. This means that occasionally a word might be bifurcated by this marker.

| 1 →

PART ONE

| 3 →

· 1 ·

She won’t tell about the knowing glances, the conspiratorial smiles. “Oh, there’s no such thing as chance,” “It was inevitable”—she overheard those trite phrases hundreds of times. They were the origin of the family legend that her calling for the theater, which caught hold of her at the age of six and never let go, was because of her first name: Bérénice—like the play by Racine. Only one person had a point of view that differed from this belief, through conviction, derision, or more likely because she just had a mind of her own. “It’s a good thing you didn’t name her Sappho, or she would’ve become a lesbian,” joked her Grandmother Mathilde, who was educated and had a sharp tongue, occasionally adding this variation: “You think if you’d named her Isabelle she would’ve become a Catholic?” This allusion to Isabelle the Catholic, that cursèd queen who expelled the Jews from Spain, was guaranteed to toss lightning bolts into this group—Catholic being, in the hierarchy of the Capel family’s values, almost more reprehensible than lesbian. But it was neither Sappho nor Isabelle, it was Bérénice, Gott zei dank—thank God—well, almost.

She won’t tell her grandchildren or even her children that she entered the world on the 28th of June in the year of grace 1919, even more grace given that it was the year, not to mention the actual day, of the Treaty of Versailles. During the early twentieth century, France was trying to convince itself that the League of Nations, just created, would bring peace to the world. “It was ← 3 | 4 → rough, but this was the war to end all wars, we’ve suffered enough, it’s over, Europe will be at peace,” or so said her father, and how many thousands like him, all in unison.

On that Saturday, June 28, 1919, five years to the day after the assassination of Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, France was hanging on every bit of news, experiencing through the newspapers or radio waves the arrival of the plenipotentiaries in the Hall of Mirrors, the whole country pregnant with expectation to hear about the historic ceremony at Versailles, solemnly awaiting the signing of the treaty that would wash away the humiliation of France’s defeat in 1871. It wouldn’t bring back the dead, it wouldn’t erase the cold, the worms, the suffering, the hell, but still, “they” would pay dearly for it.

Although he had fought right from the beginning in 1914—and proudly served France, mind you, since what could be more honorable for a Jewish immigrant—and though he came back with two wounds, military honors, and the Croix de Guerre, Monsieur Capel had other things on his mind that day than the fate of the Boches: would his wife give birth to a boy or a girl? If it was a boy, they would name him Philippe, of course, like Marshal Pétain, the savior of Verdun. If it was a girl, they had also made up their minds—she would be named Bérénice. Certainly, like the heroine of the Racine play, yes, ladies and gentlemen! He hadn’t read an awful lot, Monsieur Capel, but during the war, he became buddies with an elementary school teacher. A great guy, a young man who had read mountains of books and knew entire poems by heart. Hugo, Baudelaire, Verlaine—especially Verlaine. A long time ago, in the cheder in Russia, Monsieur Capel had a chaver like that who could recite the Torah by heart. You would give him the number of a chapter or a verse, and voilà! he would rattle off the passage without ever making a mistake. Even the rabbi, he was impressed. The “teach,” he was a goy and an atheist (maybe even a freemason—which goes to show, that can happen even in the best families), so he exercised his talents on French literature—which, come to think of it, is an even more remarkable feat than the Bible. Not only that, he was easygoing, not in the least pretentious, didn’t object to mess duty, a real pal, know what I mean? Louis was his name, a good French name, a king’s name.

Details

Pages
VI, 234
ISBN (PDF)
9781433167072
ISBN (ePUB)
9781433167089
ISBN (MOBI)
9781433167096
ISBN (Book)
9781433167058
Language
English
Publication date
2019 (July)
Published
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2019. VI, 234 pp.

Biographical notes

Isabelle Stibbe (Author)

Isabelle Stibbe is an important new voice in French fiction. She has served as director of publications at the Comédie-Française and the Grand Palais, and as secretary general of the Athénée Théâtre Louis-Jouvet. Stibbe is the theater critic for the magazine La Terrasse. This is her first novel, published to critical acclaim in 2013.

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Title: Bérénice 1934-44