The French in Love and War

Popular Culture in France, 1914-1945
Author(s): 
Rearick, Charles
ISBN: 
0300064330
Date published: 
January 1997
Paperback
Price: 
£25.00
Pages: 
384

From the bloodbaths of the First World War through the military defeat and Nazi occupation of the Second World War, the people of France struggled with the pain and anxieties of a nation in crisis. In this sophisticated cultural history of France from 1914 to 1945, Charles Rearick tells how the French discovered ways to cope and found reassurance and relief through songs, films and images of ordinary people that they took to heart. Augmenting this fascinating story with more than 125 illustrations, Rearick reveals the power of popular myths and symbols at work throughout a critical period of the twentieth century. In everyday life of this time, stories of French people carried important messages of gritty self-reliance and cheerful good humour. Images of ordinary people - the jovial infantryman and his devoted woman, the bantering working-class Parisian, the suntanned hiking youth, the militant striker - drew on shared experiences, wishes, fears and interests. These were embodied in the songs and persona of such musical stars as Maurice Chevalier, Mistinguett, Josephine Baker, Tino Rossi, Charles Trenet and Edith Piaf; in the films of such directors as Rene Clair, Jean Renoir, Julien Duvivier and Marcel Pagnol; and in movie characters played by Jean Gabin, Fernandel, Michele Morgan and others. Rearick shows how these celebrities and characters influenced the ways in which the French redefined their lives and responded to adversity. Charles Rearick is Professor of History at the University of Massacusetts