Sunday, February 17, 2013

French stories of betrayal, paranoia and manipulation

The 1981 French movie Le Professional stars Jean-Paul Belmondo as a French agent dispatched to Africa to kill a president, then left in the lurch to be captured and tortured when the political winds shift, and assassination is no longer called for.

Didier Daeninckx's 1984 French crime novel Murder in Memoriam (available in English translation from Melville House) has a son looking for his missing father in a novel that "exposed the hidden crimes of a nation."

In the 1970 and '80s, Jean-Patrick Manchette wrote novels whose protagonists are casually used and discarded by the French government. More recently, Dominique Manotti takes up a similar theme in her novels and stories. (Read James Sallis' appreciation of Manchette.)

Paranoia and manipulation were in the air in the 1970s, but did the French have a special affinity for this sort of story? If so, why? What are you favorite stories of a man or woman used, manipulated, and discarded government, corporate, or military power?
© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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Blogger seana graham said...

What I wonder is why so many French names, especially men's names, never have made it over to the U.S. at all. Didier being a case in point.

February 18, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Perhaps because so many French names were already here in anglicized form: Henry, Charles (which came from a Germanic language to French then back to a Germanic language--namely English), Norman. I suspect also that the names that made it here were those more common in the regions of France from which this country's French immigrants came.

Fred Vargas, in Wash This Blood Clean From My Hand, has Parisian characters make observations on the French names, odd to them, that they find in Quebec.

February 18, 2013  

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