cover image Apprentice Writer

Apprentice Writer

Julian Green, Julien Green. Marion Boyars Publishers, $24.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-7145-2956-1

Born in Paris of American parents in 1900, Green ( The Distant Lands ) spent most of WW II in the U.S., teaching French to soldiers, working for Voice of America and writing. All but one of the 16 entries that comprise this sometimes shapeless but nonetheless engrossing collection were written during this period. The exception, from 1920, is Green's first published English work, a derivative short story included perhaps to show how much the writer would mature. A few serviceable, if occasionally repetitive, college lectures consider such aspects of the novelist's craft as creating characters and imitation versus invention, but the most effective pieces reflect Green's unique dislocation as an American citizen for whom English was a second language, the only foreign (let alone American) member of the Academie Francaise--a man of divided loyalties. In his career as a writer, that division is most forcibly realized in his musings on translation and on his parallel worlds of words. Green also acknowledges temporal dislocation: before the war he moved in a literary milieu inhabited by the likes of Mauriac, Giraudoux, Valery, Claudel, Cocteau and Proust, a world delightfully preserved in his mellifluous, but never cloying, prose. ( Jan. )