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Fast cars, clean bodies : decolonization and the reordering of French culture /

Main Author: Ross, Kristin.
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, 1996
Edition: 1st MIT Press pbk. ed.
Series: October book
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Review by Choice Review

Ross's delightful and evocative work expands interpretations of French culture and change from the 1950s to the mid-60s. Combining close readings of literature with trenchant observations of cinema, philosophy, politics, popular culture, and social sciences, Ross underscores the dialectic between modernization (Americanization) and decolonization that transformed France (here, especially, as embedded in Parisian discourse). The four loosely interlocking essays use cars, hygiene, the bourgeois couple, and the "new" man as primary organizational foci, but their impact rests less in systematic development of these representations and realities than in the insightful juxtapositions they create: Simone de Beauvoir meets cars speeding across movie screens, Frantz Fanon's visions of a postcolonial world challenge the glossy magazines of a new domesticity, the theoretical engagements of Claude Levi-Strauss and Ferdinand Braudel invert the cinematic delights of Jacques Tati. Although some specialists may object to reliance on such suggestive connections, this book should nonetheless challenge them to rethink connections and implications, while inviting advanced students of France into fresh and exciting questions about cultural history, power, and change. Undergraduates and above. G. W. McDonogh; Bryn Mawr College

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.