Review by Choice Review
As Malcolm Bowie aptly states in the preface, a factual, accurate reference guide to contemporary French life is needed to dispel the misinformation about modern France (e.g., it is widely regarded as a land of voluptuous pleasure) that renders French thought suspect to some commentators. The book includes entries concerning every aspect of modern French life. Hughes and Reader confine the book's coverage to post-WW II France (1945 to the present), emphasizing the latter. Also useful are long articles on French-speaking territories with geographical or cultural links to France. Instead of long articles about individual writers, which can be obtained elsewhere, the editors provide brief entries on different genres or forms like committed literature, nouveau roman, and poetry. Readers will be delighted to encounter unknown facts; for example, chanteuse Edith Piaf's 's body was returned to Paris from southern France (where she died October 9, 1963) because she had wanted to die in Paris, and the date of her death certificate was altered to October 11, 1963. Highly recommended for all college and university libraries. R. T. Ivey; University of Memphis
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review
This encyclopedia, current through 1997, presents "over 700 alphabetical entries on key aspects of French culture since 1945 . . . [covering] topics which traditional reference works often neglect." The editors are university based, as are the contributors, though no subjects of specialty nor prior publications are given for any. Emphasizing cross-disciplinary concerns, and a movement "away from the . . . duo of language and canonical literature . . . to incorporate cinema, political and social institutions, gender-based studies, and critical theory," this work would be of utility to college and university students not only in French programs but in areas such as cinema studies, literary theory, or political science. Some examples of entries are AIDS, cinema, detective fiction, gastronomy, legal system, Pompidou Centre and the Forum des Halles, poststructuralism, racism/anti-Semitism, and student revolt of 1986. People covered in biograpical entries have contributed to the culture in a variety of ways and include, among others, Isabelle Adjani, Roland Barthes, Christian Dior, Le Corbusier, and Jean-Marie Le Pen. Lengthy articles (up to four pages) are generally reserved for such broad topics as architecture, feminist thought, and psychoanalysis. Most articles have useful cross-references either embedded or appended. Longer articles also include annotated suggestions for further reading. Many of the cited works are in French, making the book most useful as a starting point for in-depth research for those with at least reading fluency in that language. There are, however, enough English-language sources to help the monolingual researcher. In addition to the index, there is a "classified contents list" that groups topics by subject. Coverage is generally quite thorough, especially in cultural, political, and arts-related fields. Factually correct and balanced in presentation, the encyclopedia gives a multidimensional, if pedantically written, view of current French culture. More comprehensive, if less readable, than James Corbett's nonencyclopedic Through French Windows: An Introduction to France in the Nineties (Univ. of Michigan, 1994), this fills a niche in cross-disciplinary studies. Recommended for academic and large public libraries.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review
Although broad in scope, this rudimentary guide to post-1945 French and Francophone culture offers a respectable amount of authoritative information for the lay reader. The more than 700 entries include economy, fashion and design, food and drink, media, the arts, politics, sport, and more. Entries range from the brief and factual to lengthy, essay-type contributions. For instance, the description and analysis of the riots of May 1968 extend over almost four pages, whereas people usually get much briefer coverage (four or five lines). It is not always clear what criteria the editors used to determine the amount of information: Marc Chagall's entry is slightly shorter than that of Mehdi Charef, a young writer/director. Typically, entries begin with factual information and end with suggestions for further reading and numerous cross references to other related topics. An extensive index makes information easily accessible and seems more useful than the list of subject headings at the start of the book. This encyclopedia, prepared and edited by English-speaking academics, presupposes no knowledge of French or contemporary French history and institutions. Understandably, it is not comprehensive; there is no entry for the Eiffel Tower or other French monuments, for instance. Recommended especially for public libraries.ÄAli Houissa, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.