Diary of the Dark Years, 1940–1944: Collaboration, Resistance, and Daily Life in Occupied Paris

Jean Guehenno, edited and trans. from the French by David Ball. Oxford Univ, $29.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-199-970865
As an intellectual and teacher at a prestigious Parisian school, 50-year-old Guehenno understood the costs of losing freedom when France capitulated to the Nazis. His courageous refusal to publish his work during the occupation inspires this rich diary, filled with once-academic musings on liberty that suddenly gain immediate relevance with each new restriction and the population’s acclimation to daily executions. This first English translation flows easily, greatly aided by both a biographical dictionary and Ball’s explanatory footnotes regarding historical events. Easily adaptable for class/group readings, Guehenno’s diary, first published in 1947, emotionally depicts WWII through his despair over France’s invasion; wry observations of the “gray men” populating the darkened, desolate city; exhaustion and, ultimately, joy. Guehenno, already a “usual suspect” for his intellectual brand of teaching and friendships with resistance members, provides an invaluable look into not only his initially innocent adolescent students, but also the bewildered, starving Parisians around him, and their gradual transformations into resistance fighters, or, at the very least, people who felt “jubilation” when the Allies bombed their beloved, embattled city. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/14/2014
Release date: 06/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 337 pages - 978-0-19-997091-9
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-19-049584-8
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