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 From nonagenarian expatriate Green (The Green Paradise, p. 1233, etc.): a collection comprised of essays, lecture notes, and a short story written in 1920, when the author was a student at the University of Virginia. Like papers retrieved from a trunk in the attic, a few of these pieces carry a whiff of the antique--but there's also much to savor and enjoy. Born in France to American parents, Green grew up bilingual, although--as he admits in ``An Experiment in English''- -``as a child I could not believe English was a real language, to me the real names of things were French.'' This dichotomy leads Green to analyze the difficulty of writing in another language; the way in which language shapes material; and the challenges that writers face in exile. He cites a poignant encounter in wartime London with his great friend AndrÇ Gide, who wanted to ask a bus conductor for directions; though Gide could talk easily with English-speaking literati, he was ignorant of colloquial English. This subtle difference between language and nationality is further explored in ``Translation and the Fields of Scripture,'' while, in ``On Keeping a Diary,'' Green writes about the difficulty of telling the truth as well as of giving an accurate self-portrait- -``one of the most hazardous occupations because it involves the whole of a man's personality, good and bad.'' Other notable pieces include a lecture on ``How a Novelist Begins''--which remains relevant and fresh, as do ``Eight Lectures on Novel Writing''--and a memoir, ``As I Look Back,'' recalling Paris between the wars and Green's friendship with writers like Gide and Cocteau. The short story (``The Apprentice Psychiatrist'') and some recollections of now-forgotten French writers and literary salons have not worn as well. Elegant evocations of a golden age when writers wrote--and lived well--in Paris, which truly was the city of light.

Pub Date: Jan. 30th, 1993
ISBN: 0-7145-2956-7
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Marion Boyars
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1992


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