Le Penitencier [The Reformatory], 1922

Part 2 of the Les Thibault series Plot Summary Here I present an overview of the main developments (with spoilers), but there are many small and beautiful details that cannot be captured in a plot summary. I do not, for example, mention the lovely little passages about the character Gise, the young half-Malagasy girl whoContinue reading “Le Penitencier [The Reformatory], 1922”

Walking in Their Footsteps: The Pissarro and Isaacson Families in Norwood and Crystal Palace

On 4 November 2021, Patrick Bernard (https://modernnature.productions/) and I took a trip to Norwood and Crystal Palace to walk in the footsteps of Camille Pissarro and his extended family. Patrick and I have done this before, when we walked in the footsteps of the eponymous hero of W.G. Sebald’s novel Austerlitz, in which Jewish LondonContinue reading “Walking in Their Footsteps: The Pissarro and Isaacson Families in Norwood and Crystal Palace”

Island Life: Thoughts on Closed Communities

Introduction This is a 4-part essay in which I discuss life on an island. This won’t be a comprehensive examination of this subject since I’ll be restricted to what I know: stories I have learned from friends, from tracing my family roots and from my own year living on an island. There are islands thatContinue reading “Island Life: Thoughts on Closed Communities”

‘A Poet’s Day’: the Romance of Félix Pissarro

On my website, I have published an essay on the life of Félix Pissarro, the third son of the artist Camille Pissarro (see Art, Anarchy and Other Dangers: the Premature Death of Felix Pissarro). Félix died of tuberculosis in 1897 at the age of 23. This was tragic because he was so young, but alsoContinue reading “‘A Poet’s Day’: the Romance of Félix Pissarro”

The Pissarro Letters and the Caillebotte Legacy

Note from the author: all the translations are my own. While reading the letters of Camille Pissarro, I encountered many references to the ‘legs Caillebotte’ (the Caillebotte Legacy) between the years 1894 and 1898. In this article, I wanted to put together the material from the letters and have a closer look at this interestingContinue reading “The Pissarro Letters and the Caillebotte Legacy”

‘Jean Barois’ and Understanding the Dreyfus Affair

This is a short commentary about a novel that recently came to my attention and which has informed my understanding one of the most historic episodes of the Belle Époque. Jean Barois by the French writer Roger Martin du Gard was published in 1913, the same year that Marcel Proust published the first volume inContinue reading “‘Jean Barois’ and Understanding the Dreyfus Affair”

The Paris of Pissarro, the Paris of Lupin

[Warning to viewers of Lupin: this article contains plot spoilers] In 2021, Netflix broadcast a new French language series called Lupin, a modern reinterpretation of the Arsène Lupin books written by Maurice Leblanc beginning in 1905. Arsène Lupin was a ‘gentleman burglar’ and a master of disguise, and though he was a thief, he wasContinue reading “The Paris of Pissarro, the Paris of Lupin”

“Your Charming Drawing”: Camille Pissarro & Esther Isaacson and the Story of a Painting

In this short article I want to have a look at an exchange between Camille Pissarro and his niece Esther Isaacson in which he asks for her help to complete his painting, Le Pont de Charing Cross, Londres, 1890. From late May until late June, 1890, Camille and Lucien Pissarro visited London, staying with theContinue reading ““Your Charming Drawing”: Camille Pissarro & Esther Isaacson and the Story of a Painting”