In this Book

Artists, Intellectuals, and World War II
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summary
Sixty years ago, at the height of World War II, an extraordinary series of gatherings took place at Mount Holyoke College in western Massachusetts. During the summers of 1942–1944, leading Europeanfigures in the arts and sciences met at the college with their American counterparts for urgent conversations about the future of human civilization in a precarious world. Two Sorbonne professors, the distinguished medievalist Gustave Cohen and the existentialist philosopher Jean Wahl, organized these “Pontigny” sessions, named after an abbey in Burgundy where similar symposia had been held in the decades before the war. Among the participants—many of whom were Jewish or had Jewish backgrounds—were the philosophers Hannah Arendt and Rachel Bespaloff, the poets Marianne Moore and Wallace Stevens, the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss and the linguist Roman Jakobson, and the painters Marc Chagall and Robert Motherwell. In this collection of original essays, Stanley Cavell and Jacques Derrida lead an international group of scholars—including Jed Perl, Mary Ann Caws, Jeffrey Mehlman, and Elisabeth Young-Bruehl—in assessing the lasting impact and contemporary significance of Pontigny-en- Amérique. Rachel Bespaloff, a tragicfigure who wrote a major work on the Iliad, is restored to her rightful place beside Arendt and Simone Weil. Anyone interested in the “intellectual resistance” of Francophone intellectuals and artists, and the inspiring support from such Americanfigures as Stevens and Moore, will want to read this pioneering work of scholarship and historical re-creation.

Table of Contents

  1. Front Cover
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  1. Title Page
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  1. Copyright Page
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-ix
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. p. xiii
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  1. Introduction: A Violence from Within
  2. pp. 1-13
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  1. Part I: A Hundred Years of Pontigny
  2. pp. 15-55
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  1. Pontigny-en-Am
  2. pp. 19-36
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  1. The Vision of Helen Patch
  2. pp. 37-42
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  1. The OSS Pays a Visit
  2. pp. 43-45
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  1. The Philosophical Model of a Counter-Institution
  2. pp. 46-55
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  1. Part II: Poetry and Philosophy
  2. pp. 57-100
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  1. Reflections on Wallace Stevens at Mount Holyoke
  2. pp. 61-79
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  1. Thoughts on Wallace Stevens’s Contribution at Pontigny-en-Amérique: Response to Cavell
  2. pp. 80-83
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  1. Postscript: Response to Mehlman
  2. pp. 84-88
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  1. Henry Church and the Literary Magazine Mesures: “The American Resource”
  2. pp. 89-100
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  1. Part III: Art and Artists
  2. pp. 101-135
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  1. Romantic Reverberations
  2. pp. 105-113
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  1. Robert Motherwell and the Modern Painter’s World
  2. pp. 114-121
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  1. The Critical Moment: Lionello Venturi in America
  2. pp. 122-135
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  1. Part IV: Creativity and Crisis
  2. pp. 137-201
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  1. Medievalism and Pontigny
  2. pp. 141-144
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  1. Gustave Cohen at Pont-Holyoke: The Drama of Belonging to France
  2. pp. 145-161
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  1. The Tiger Leaps: Louis Aragon, Gustave Cohen, and the Poetry of Resistance
  2. pp. 162-172
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  1. Poetry and Reality: Roman O. Jakobson and Claude L
  2. pp. 173-184
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  1. Jacques Hadamard and Creativity in the Sciences
  2. pp. 185-201
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  1. Part V: Conversations in Exile
  2. pp. 203-245
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  1. A Tale of Two Iliads
  2. pp. 207-219
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  1. Hannah Arendt on Action and Violence with Reference to Simone Weil and Rachel Bespaloff on Homer’s Iliad: A Conversation
  2. pp. 220-239
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  1. Concerning the Label Emigrant: Brecht’s Conversations in Exile and the Century of Refugees
  2. pp. 240-245
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  1. Part VI: Remembering Rachel Bespaloff
  2. pp. 247-277
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  1. Rachel Bespaloff and the Nostalgia for the Instant
  2. pp. 251-259
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  1. Rediscovering Rachel Bespaloff
  2. pp. 260-263
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  1. Searching for Rachel Bespaloff
  2. pp. 264-267
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  1. Blend and Belong
  2. pp. 268-270
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  1. Memories of Rachel Bespaloff
  2. pp. 271-272
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  1. Pauvre Rachel
  2. pp. 273-277
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  1. Conclusion: Encounters of Hope
  2. pp. 279-282
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  1. Contributors
  2. pp. 283-286
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 287-294
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  1. Back Cover
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