June brings us poetry by Neil Ellman and a short story by Donal Mahoney. Summer is around the corner. Will there be dancing in the streets?
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Reading a fascinating book about Occupied Paris. Alan Riding’s And the Show Went On. About 110 pages into it. He tells the story of heroism and collaboration in France, the Resistance, the complicit Vichy government, the attempt to flee the horrors of the Third Reich.
For me, World War II was always the last just war. Before it and since that time, wars have been overwhelmingly unnecessary, wars of choice, wars of conquest and the protection of markets. Wars that essentially had no reason for being, other than greed, avarice, the expansion of power or the exploitation of trumped up threats.
World War II was the real thing. Things really did stand in the balance. There really was a world before it and a totally different world after it, if the world had not gotten together to battle the Nazi and Fascist threat.
And how did artists, dancers, musicians, writers and actors react? Alan Riding’s book captures their moment, their dilemma, their choices. Josephine Baker comes away as a hero. Maurice Chevalier, so far, a collaborator and possibly a traitor to his nation. But perhaps the most fascinating and bravest of the men in Riding’s story to this point is the American, Varian Fry, who went to France hoping to rescue at least 200 artists, writers and musicians and ended up saving the lives of more than 2,000.
The rest of the book should delve into the Resistance in more detail, talk about Beckett, Malraux, Camus, Sartre and Beauvoir, among others. But for now, it’s in the second year after the invasion and occupation. Paris is back in business. But it’s never going to be the same.