Dancing With De Beauvoir
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Explores the powerful synergies between jazz and the French to show how jazz has helped shaped modern French culture and influenced cultural icons from Ravel, Matisse, Sartre and De Beauvoir to Derrida.
When live jazz arrived in France towards the end of World War I, it was seen from the start as a fertile symbol of other things. It was an embodiment of artistic freedom, it was modernism, it was America, it was African primitivism, sexual liberation, social decadence and moral decay. Its energy and innovation helped produce an unprecedented explosion of activity in modern French art and thought.
Paris and jazz had a special relationship. From the United States flowed a stream of black jazz artists keen to taste the freedom and sophistication of the City of Light: Josephine Baker, Sidney Bechet, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis. In their audiences were other significant Americans who called Paris home—Ernest Hemingway, Cole Porter, Sylvia Beach, and Man Ray. Django Reinhardt, Jean Cocteau, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Boris Vian, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Luc Godard, Louis Malle and Jacques Derrida were among the French artists and intellectuals who also responded, transforming their culture into jazz's second home.
In Dancing with De Beauvoir, Colin Nettelbeck explores the powerful synergies between jazz and the French. This authoritative cultural history not only recalls influential performances and recordings. It teases out the threads of artistic collaborations and rivalries, revisits influential meetings, love affairs and friendships, and explores tensions in US-French relations, to show how jazz has helped shaped modern French culture. Stylishly illustrated with rare black-and-white photographs, this is a book for anyone who has ever fallen in love with France, and wondered why.
About the author
Colin Nettelbeck is AR Chisholm Professor of French and Head of the School of Languages at the University of Melbourne. He has written many books and articles about twentieth century French literature, cinema and cultural history, including Forever French: Exile in the United States 1939-1945 (1993) and A Century of Cinema: Australian and French Connections (with Jane Warren and Wallace Kirsop, 1996).
He is a jazz fan and sometime practitioner and, like Cole Porter, loves Paris in any season.