Directed by Véronique Jobert and Lorraine de Meaux

A catalogue that is well built enjoys a life after the exhibition. That is the case for this one that accompanied during a discreet 2012 Franco-Prussian year the event “Intelligentsia”, recently closed at the Beaux-arts in Paris. It examines closely a century of relations between French and Russian intellectuals, and presented a rich ensemble of original documents – photographs, films, manifestoes, letters and oukazes. From the hand written report of the conversation in 1935 between Staline and the “greatest writer in the world” (Romain Rolland) to the declaration of a furious André Breton on the day following the process of Moscow in September 1936, we can see that objective positions vis-à-vis of the Soviet Union were not customary. One was either “for” (Aragon, Sartre, Pierre Daix for a certain period), with all the compromises that could entail, or one was “against” (father Chaleil, David Rousset, Camus, Gide after his trip) with all the related dangers. This large volume brings together Picasso and his famous Colombe, Troyat and Kessel (asking for their French naturalization), Barbusse who died in Moscow in 1935 and Malraux, and is a reference with particularly touching documents. Such is the case of these instructions written in purple ink, in perfect French and a tiny hand writing, with which Pasternak covered post cards sent to Jacqueline de Proyart, the young Slavist who sneaked his manuscript out to the West.

Intelligentsia, directed by Véronique Jobert and Lorraine de Meaux, Beaux-arts de Paris les Editions/Institut français, 536 p., €49.

Intelligentsia - Directed by Véronique Jobert and Lorraine de Meaux

Review published in the newsletter #286 - from 17 January 2013 to 23 January 2013

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