Blue Island

Jean Raspail, Author, Jeremy Leggatt, Translator Mercury House $17.95 (208p) ISBN 978-0-916515-99-7
A gang of six spoiled French youths plays war games on a desolate river island in Raspail's spellbinding fable. But this is no myth-like Lord of the Flies. Contemporary history is an ever-present element, as German troops advance, France falls apart, the government evacuates Paris and refugees flood the countryside. Bertrand, the gang's conceited, overbearing leader, has ``an eye for symbols'': mock funerals, ritualistic sex games, bombastic calls to war. Hypnotized by his charisma, his girlfriend, ``gloriously'' blonde Maite, declares, ``I like war. Win or lose.'' Disturbing, subtle parallels emerge, linking the gang's psychodynamics and Hitler's evil hold on his nation. When the youths obtain real guns and ammo to defend their island against the Germans, their war games abruptly coverge with reality, with predictably tragic consequences. The shattering climax and its aftermath seem to encapsulate France's humiliation and shame under the Nazis. Raspail ( Who Will Remember the People ) narrowly avoids sentimentality in this powerful depiction of an end to innocence and illusion. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
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