There is further cause to celebrate Bastille Day as NYRB now has several French history titles with another due this fall. Additionally, Richard Howard was this year’s co-recipient of the French-American Foundation & Florence Gould Foundation Translation Award for When the World Spoke French by Marc Fumaroli.
Nancy Mitford’s dazzling histories—The Sun King, Madame de Pompadour, and Voltaire In Love (October 2012)—cover the court life of Louis the 14th; unveil the personal life of Louis the 15th’s famous mistress; and yield an Enlightenment era love affair between two of France’s greatest minds. Moving into the Napoleonic era, Philippe-Paul de Ségur’s Defeat gives a firsthand account of Napoleon’s disastrous invasion of Russia. Novels in Three Lines is a scandalously witty account of everyday life in 1906 France, by critic and anarchist Félix Fénéon. And, last on the timeline, but certainly not least, Richard Cobb’s street level view of France from the mid-thirties to the early fifties in his Paris and Elsewhere.