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L'ENTENTE CULTURELLE

CULTURE

What’s on: London’s arts scene comes to Paris

Paris and London are joining hands in solidarity, launching a new cross-country cultural exhibition that will see David Bowie, London's Philharmonic Orchestra, and much more on show in Paris. We take a closer look at what Parisians can expect.

What's on: London's arts scene comes to Paris
David Bowie's Aladdin Album cover. Photo: Duffy Archive and The David Bowie Archive
While some may say London and Paris are eternal rivals, the two capitals are being brought much closer together than usual. A five-month cultural twinning programme – Tandem – sees London's finest music, theatre, literature, and cinema sent in return for the crème de la crème of Paris – including Monet paintings and Juliette Binoche. 
 
"This unprecedented initiative highlights the unique story that has been linking Paris and London for centuries and that is turning into a productive friendship," Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said when launching the plan.
 
 
London Mayor Boris Johnson said the partnership aims to create work opportunities between both cities and promote emerging artists.
 
Here are some of the highlights for Paris. 
 
London Symphony Orchestra at the Philharmonie de Paris Concert Hall, from February to June
 
The London Symphony Orchestra is revisiting some of the best creations in classical music at the new Philharmonie de Paris.
 
Three concerts are scheduled, where the concertos of masters Sergueï Rachmaninoff, Pierre Boulez, and Mozart will be reincarnated during live performances. All under the watchful eye of conductor Peter Eötvös.

 
"David Bowie Is" exhibition at the Paris Philharmonie, March 3rd to May 31st
 

(David Bowie's Aladdin Album cover. Photo: Duffy Archive and The David Bowie Archive)
 
The Thin White Duke is returning to stage, or at least a retrospective of his musical career. It will be displayed at the Paris Philharmonie Concert Hall, showing Bowie's unique personality and inspiration. Vistors can expect to see and learn more about Aladdin Sane, Halloween Jack, Hunky Dory, and Ziggy Stardust.
 
English Baroque Soloists, at the Paris Philharmonie Concert Hall, April 3rd
 

(John Eliot Gardiner will conduct the English Baroque Soloists. Photo: PhilarmoniedeParis.fr)
 
British conductor John Eliot Gardiner will lead the English Baroque Soloists group that he founded for an interpretation of Bach's famous Mass in B Minor. This won’t be Gardiner's first performance in the French capital – he led "Bach Marathons" at the Cité de la Musique in 2013.
 
The "Record Store Day" or "Disquaire Day" in Paris on April 18th
 
 
Created in 2007, this day celebrates the best of independent music in Britain, France and the US. This year will mark the eighth edition of the day, and will see many artists such as The Stranglers and Miles Oliver performing live. There'll also be exhibitions, showcases and workshops in across the country. The iconic London Rough Trade Records shop will even cross the channel to take part. Special vinyls and CDs will also be released for the occasion.
 
"Degeneration" at the Abbesses Theatre, May 4th to May 20th
 

(Some of Hofesh Shechter choreographies will premiere in Paris for the occasion. Photo: Théâtredelavilledeparis.fr)
 

Brit Hofesh Shechter will present three of his best choreographies, including "Creation", which will see its premiere in the French capital. Shechter's first production “Fragments”, which humorously depicts couples' relationships, will also be part of the programme, as well as "Cult" – an ironical representation of the powers shaping our society.
 
Golem, at the Abbesses Theatre, May 26th to June 4th
 

(The 1927 play will perform in the city of lights for the first time. Photo: Théâtredelavilledeparis.fr)
 
British award winning Theatre Company 1927 will present "Golem", a play the Financial Times once described as "a bleak, delightful, antique, topical treat in every way". The play portrays the story of a man creating the "Golem", a clay creature from Jewish mythology, incapable of talking and therefore forced to work for its creator. The company's adaptation of the play will look at the relationship between man and the creature.
 
London Literature at the Maison de la Poésie, June 15th
 

(The Maison de la Poésie, in Paris third district. Photo: Maisondelapoesie.com)
 
The Maison de la Poésie will welcome several London authors mid-June as well as performances, such as a “Midnight run” on June 12th. (More info to come in April).
 
"Cinéma du Réel" – 37th International Festival of Documentary Films at the Pompidou Centre, March 19th to March 25th
 
 
Alongside unseen French and international films, British filmmaker Keith Griffiths has a "carte blanche" and will launch a new section of the festival to reflect his own influences and inspirations. Griffiths, who will attend some of the screenings, selected 13 films, including creations by British directors Patrick Keiller and Simon Pummell.
 
"The Tudors" at the Luxembourg Museum, March 18th to July 19th
 

(One of the Tudors most famous representatives, king Henry VIII. Photo: Museeduluxembourg.org)
 

A first in France, which has never seen the tumultuous history of the Tudor dynasty traced back through an exhibition. Thanks to a range of paintings dating back to the 19th century, the life of the generation that marked Britain and France with power and religious wars, is displayed to the French public from March onwards.
 
"Mannequins d’artistes, mannequins fétiches" exhibition, at the Bourdelle Museum, April 1st to July 12th
 

(The exhibition takes a look at the relationship between artists and mannequins. Photo: bourdelle.paris.fr)
 
The Bourdelle Museum introduces an unusual exhibition exploring the relationship between mannequins and artists from the 18th century to today. Over 160 works of world-renowned artists will be presented, including work from Thomas Gainsborough, Edward Burne-Jones, and Alan Beeton.
 
This year marks the fourth time Paris has had a cultural exchange with another city, following swaps with Buenos Aires, Berlin, and Dakar. 
 
By Priscillia Charles
 

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HISTORY

‘Lost’ manuscript of pro-Nazi French author published 78 years later

A book by one of France's most celebrated and controversial literary figures arrives in bookstores this week, 78 years after the manuscript disappeared

'Lost' manuscript of pro-Nazi French author published 78 years later

It is a rare thing when the story of a book’s publication is even more mysterious than the plot of the novel itself.

But that might be said of Guerre (War) by one of France’s most celebrated and controversial literary figures, Louis-Ferdinand Celine, which arrives in bookstores on Thursday, some 78 years after its manuscript disappeared.

Celine’s reputation has somehow survived the fact that he was one of France’s most eager collaborators with the Nazis.

Already a superstar thanks to his debut novel Journey to the End of the Night (1932), Celine became one of the most ardent anti-Semitic propagandists even before France’s occupation.

In June 1944, with the Allies advancing on Paris, the writer abandoned a pile of his manuscripts in his Montmartre apartment.

Celine feared rough treatment from authorities in liberated France, having spent the war carousing with the Gestapo, and giving up Jews and foreigners to the Nazi regime and publishing racist pamphlets about Jewish world conspiracies.

For decades, no one knew what happened to his papers, and he accused resistance fighters of burning them. But at some point in the 2000s, they ended up with retired journalist Jean-Pierre Thibaudat, who passed them – completely out of the blue – to Celine’s heirs last summer.

‘A miracle’
Despite the author’s history, reviews of the 150-page novel, published by Gallimard, have been unanimous in their praise.

“The end of a mystery, the discovery of a great text,” writes Le Point; a “miracle,” says Le Monde; “breathtaking,” gushes Journal du Dimanche.

Gallimard has yet to say whether the novel will be translated.

Like much of Celine’s work, Guerre is deeply autobiographical, recounting his experiences during World War I.

It opens with 20-year-old Brigadier Ferdinand finding himself miraculously alive after waking up on a Belgian battlefield, follows his treatment and hasty departure for England – all based on Celine’s real experiences.

His time across the Channel is the subject of another newly discovered novel, Londres (London), to be published this autumn.

If French reviewers seem reluctant to focus on Celine’s rampant World War II anti-Semitism, it is partly because his early writings (Guerre is thought to date from 1934) show little sign of it.

Journey to the End of the Night was a hit among progressives for its anti-war message, as well as a raw, slang-filled style that stuck two fingers up at bourgeois sensibilities.

Celine’s attitude to the Jews only revealed itself in 1937 with the publication of a pamphlet, Trifles for a Massacre, which set him on a new path of racial hatred and conspiracy-mongering.

He never back-tracked. After the war, he launched a campaign of Holocaust-denial and sought to muddy the waters around his own war-time exploits – allowing him to worm his way back into France without repercussions.

‘Divine surprise’
Many in the French literary scene seem keen to separate early and late Celine.

“These manuscripts come at the right time – they are a divine surprise – for Celine to become a writer again: the one who matters, from 1932 to 1936,” literary historian Philippe Roussin told AFP.

Other critics say the early Celine was just hiding his true feelings.

They highlight a quote that may explain the gap between his progressive novels and reactionary feelings: “Knowing what the reader wants, following fashions like a shopgirl, is the job of any writer who is very financially constrained,” Celine wrote to a friend.

Despite his descent into Nazism, he was one of the great chroniclers of the trauma of World War I and the malaise of the inter-war years.

An exhibition about the discovery of the manuscripts opens on Thursday at the Gallimard Gallery and includes the original, hand-written sheets of Guerre.

They end with a line that is typical of Celine: “I caught the war in my head. It is locked in my head.”

In the final years before his death in 1961, Celine endlessly bemoaned the loss of his manuscripts.

The exhibition has a quote from him on the wall: “They burned them, almost three manuscripts, the pest-purging vigilantes!”

This was one occasion – not the only one – where he was proved wrong.

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