New York State Writers Institute
Alice Kaplan

Alice Kaplan
April 24, 2001

8:00 p.m. Reading

Recital Hall, PAC
UAlbany, Uptown Campus

4:00 Informal Seminar, HU 354
UAlbany's Uptown Campus
The Collaborator

Alice Kaplan, literary critic and historian, is the author of The Collaborator: the Trial and Execution of Robert Brasillach (2000) is the story of a talented writer put to death in 1945 for publishing hundreds of articles justifying the Nazi regime in France. The execution of Brasillach, one of the most polarizing events in modern French history, raises the question of whether the expression of ideas can constitute a crime against humanity. Kaplan, the daughter of a U.S. prosecutor at the Nuremberg trails, presents the courtroom proceedings as explosive drama, and provides revealing background information on every player, including each of the jurors.

The book, which was nominated for the 2000 National Book Award, has elicited unanimous critical praise....

"This remarkable account of Robert Brasillach's notorious life, trial, and execution throws into relief several of the dominant forces of French society, then and now. Kaplan's vivid prose and enterprising research explode myths that have been perpetuated for years, making The Collaborator as invaluable to historians as it will be compelling to the general reader." - Edmund White

"a rare scholarly page-turner" - Publishers Weekly

"One of the best-written, most absorbing pieces of literary history in years." - The New York Times

"[Brasillach's trial] as recreated by Kaplan, is suffused with the drama and heft of Dreyfus' or Joan of Arc's." - Richard Corliss, Time Magazine

Kaplan's earlier book, French Lessons: A Memoir (1993), recounts the author's lifelong infatuation with French language and culture. French Lessons was named a "Notable Book of 1993" by the New York Times. Kaplan, who is Director of the Center for French and Francophone Studies at Duke University, presents her autobiography as an ongoing seduction by a language she first encountered as a child growing up in the American Midwest.

"A rare and moving evocation of what it feels like--and what it means--to fall in love with a language not one's own." - The New York Review of Books

"Alice Kaplan has written a wonderful book as accessible as light fiction and as polished and layered as poetry. . .The precision and intensity of Kaplan's presentation of self in everyday life makes for an extraordinary literary achievement." - The Toronto Globe and Mail

Kaplan is also the recent translator of a number of works by leading French author Roger Grenier, a protege of French existentialist Albert Camus. Booklist calls her translation of Another November/Le Pierrot Noir (1998), "a masterwork of eros and pathos. . .Densely written and complex despite its brevity, this is a story to be read in an evening and mulled over for months afterward." Kaplan's translation of Grenier's The Difficulty of Being a Dog (December 2000) is comprised for forty meditations on the history and meaning of dog ownership. Publisher's Weekly calls the book, "Delightful and poignant. . .Grenier applies a broad and deep knowledge of literary dog lovers from Homer to Flaubert and Faulkner." Kaplan's newest Grenier translation, Piano Music for Four Hands, is due to appear in August 2001.