Fernandez, Dominique 1929-

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Fernandez, Dominique 1929-

PERSONAL:

Born August 25, 1929, in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France; son of Ramon (a writer) and Liliane (Chlomette) Fernandez; married Diane Jacquin de Margerie, May 2, 1961 (divorced); children: Laetitia, Ramon. Education: Attended Lycée Buffon, Paris, and Ecole Normale Supérieure.

ADDRESSES:

Home—14 rue de Douai, 75009 Paris, France. Agent—c/o Editions Grasset & Fasquelle, Gl rue des Saints-Péres, 75006 Paris, France.

CAREER:

Writer, educator, and literary and music critic. Institute Français, Naples, France, professor of French, 1957-58; University of Haute-Bretagne, professor of Italian, 1966-89. Literary critic for L'Express, 1959-84, and Le Nouvel Observateur, 1985—; music critic for Nouvelle review française, Diapason, 1977-85, and Monde de la musique, Operat International, 1978. Editions Bernard Grasset, member of reading committee, 1959—.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Chevalier, Legion of Honor; Commander, National Order of Merit; Commander, Cruzeiro do Sul (Brazil); Grand Prix Littéraire du Festival International de Nice, 1971, for Les enfants de Gogol; Prix Médicis, 1974, for Proporino, ou les mystères de Naples; Prix Goncourt, 1982, for Dans la main de l'ange; Grand Prix Charles Oulmont, 1986; Prix Prince Pierre de Monaco, 1986; Prix Méditerranée, 1988; Prix Oscar Wilde, 1988.

WRITINGS:


Mère Mediterranée, Grasset (Paris, France), 1969, new edition, 2000.

Le Mythe de l'Amérique chez les intellectuals Italiens de 1930 à 1950 (dissertation), 1968.

L'arbre jusqu'aux racines, Grasset (Paris, France), 1972–75, revised and augmented edition, Grasset (Paris, France), 1992.

Porporino, ou les mystères de Naples (novel; title means "Porporino, or the Secrets of Naples"), Livre de poche (Paris, France), 1974, reprinted, 1994.

(With Piero Guccione and Michel Sager) Piero Guccione: Glaeri Claude Bernard, La Galerie (Paris, France), 1976.

(With Fulvio Rolter) Vivre Venise, Mengès (Paris, France), 1978.

Signor Giovanni (novel), Balland (Paris, France), 1981.

Dans la main de l'ange (novel), Grasset (Paris, France), 1982.

(With Paolo Marton and Peter Lauritzen) Rome, Mirror of the Centuries, Magrus Edizione Spa (Udine, Italy), 1983, Vendome Press (New York, NY), 1984.

(Presenter) Guy de Maupassant, Miss Harriet, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1985.

With Patrick Mauriès and François Nourissier) Moments de mode à travers les collections du Musée des arts de la mode, Le Musée: Herscher (Paris, France), 1986.

L'amour, Grasset (Paris, France), 1986.

Budapest, Autrement (Paris, France), 1986.

La gloire du paria (novel), Grasset (Paris, France), 1987.

Eisenstein (biography), Grasset (Paris, France), 1987.

Le proeneur amoureux: de Venise à Syracuse, Plon (Pairs, France), 1987.

(With Ferrante Ferranti) Le radeau de la Gorgone: promenandes en Sicile, Grasset (Paris, France), 1988.

Le rapt de Ganymède (opera libretto), Grasset (Paris, France), 1989.

(With Ferrante Ferranti) Ailes de lumière, F. Bourin (Paris, France), 1989.

Le Rose des Tudors, revised and augmented edition, Julliard (Paris, France), 1989.

L'école du sud (novel), Grasset (Paris, France), 1991.

Porfirio et Constance (novel), Grasset (Paris, France), 1991.

(With Ferrante Ferranti) Séville, Stock (Paris, France), 1992.

(With Ferrante Ferranti) L'or des tropiques: promenades dans le Portugal at le Brésil baroques, Grasset (Paris, France), 1993.

Le dernier des Médicis (novel), Grasset (Paris, France), 1994.

Le magie blanche de Saint-Pétersbourg, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1994.

(With Andre Efimovich) Saint-Pétersbourg, Criterion (Paris, France), 1994.

(With Ferrante Ferranti) Prague et la Bohême, Stock (Paris, France), 1994.

(With Ferrante Ferranti) Le musée idéal de Stendhal, Stock (Paris, France), 1995.

(With Ferrante Ferranti) La perle et le croissant: l'Europe baroque de Naples à Saint-Pétersbourg, Plon (Paris, France), 1995.

Saint-Pétersbourg: le rêve de Pierre, Omnibus (Paris, France), 1995.

Tribunal d'honneur (novel), Grasset (Paris, France), 1996.

Le Secret (novel), Seuil (Paris, France), 1996.

(With Ferrante Ferranti) Saint-Pétersbourg, Stock (Paris, France), 1996.

Le voyage d'Italie: dictionnaire amoureux, Plon (Paris, France), 1997.

(With Ferrante Ferranti) Rhapsodie roumaine, Grasset (Paris, France), 1998, translation published as The Romanian Rhapsody: An Overlooked Corner of Europe, Algora (New York, NY), 2000.

Palerme et la Sicile, Stock (Paris, France), 1998.

Dictionnaire de la Renaissance, Encyclopaedia Universalis: Albin Michel (Paris, France), 1998.

(With Suzanne Guillou-Varga) L'amour des mythes et les mythes de l'amour (criticism), Artoirs presses université (Arras, France), 1998.

Le loup et le chien: un nouveau contrat social, Pygmalion/G. Watelet (Paris, France), 1998.

Les douze muses d'Alexandre Dumas (criticism; title means "The Twelve Muses of Alexandre Dumas"), Grasset (Paris, France), 1999.

(With Ferrante Ferranti) Bolivie, Stock (Paris, France), 1999.

Nicolas: roman (novel), Grasset (Paris, France), 1999.

(Presenter and translator) Sandr Penna, Poésies, Grasset (Paris, France), 1999.

(With Catherine Dubreuil) Voyage à Venise, Martiniére (Paris, France), 1999.

(With Ts'un-ming Chu) La beauté, Desclée de Brouwer: Presses artistiques et littéraires de Shanghai (Paris, France), 2000.

(With Ferrante Ferranti) Errances solaires, Stock (Paris, France), 2000.

(With Daniele Benati) Les arts en scène: un quadreria del Seicento, Ville d'Ajaccio: Musée Fesch (Ajaccio, France), 2000.

With Ramon Fernandez) Molière, ou l'essence du génie comique (criticism), Grasset (Paris, France), 2000.

(With Ferrante Ferranti) Menton, Grasset (Paris, France), 2001.

L'amour qui ose dire son nom: art et homosexualité (criticism), Stock (Paris, France), 2001, translation published as A Hidden Love: Art and Homosexuality, Prestel (London, England), 2002.

Jérémie, Jérémie: roman (novel), Grasset (Paris, Fance), 2005.

Sentiment indien, Grasset (Paris, Fance), 2005.

Also author of Le roman italien et la crise de la conscience moderne, 1958; L'écorce des pierres, 1959; L'aube, 1962; Les evénements de Palerme, 1966; L'échec de Pavèse, 1968; Lettre a Dor, 1969; Il Mito dell'America, 1969; Les enfants de Gogol, 1971; Les Siciliens, 1977; Amsterdam, 1977; L'étoile rose, 1978; Une fleur de jasmin à l'oreille, 1980; Le volcan sous la ville, 1983; and Le banquet des anges, 1984.

Editor and author of numerous journal articles and exhibition catalogs; author of preface to numerous works; contributor to operas, including Le rapt de Perséphone opéra (sound recording), Cybélia (New York, NY), 1987; works have been translated into Italian, German, English, Spanish, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Romanian, Greek, and Japanese.

SIDELIGHTS:

Dominique Fernandez is a prolific novelist, essayist, and travel writer of French and Mexican descent. Much of his work has dealt with Italy and themes of homosexuality and violent death. Fernandez is the son of Ramon Fernandez, also a writer, whose troubled marriage to Lilian Chomette and fascist past became the subject of a pair of Fernandez's later novels.

Typical of Fernandez's many historical novels is Porporino, ou les mystères de Naples. It is set in late eighteenth-century Naples and tells the story of Porporino, a peasant chosen by a local prince to become one of the castrati. The book offers vivid details of the world of opera and the cultural exploits of the castrati who starred in it. Writing in the Library Journal, George Soete called the novel "an unusual historical novel for serious readers, especially those interested in early Italian opera." A Publishers Weekly contributor referred to the book as "rich in anecdote and atmosphere."

In 1975, Fernandez published Eisenstein, a psychobiography of the pioneering Russian film director Sergei Eisenstein, and the second in a two-volume work called L'arbre jusqu'aux racines. Fernandez links Eisenstein's creative work to an Oedipal conflict, points out father figures in various of his films such as Strike and Alexander Nevsky, and argues that the director was sublimating his erotic attraction to men. James Goodwin, while rejecting Fernandez's central argument in an article for the Quarterly Review of Film Studies, nevertheless called Fernandez's attempt to link Eisenstein's path-breaking use of montage to negation of the idea of destiny "highly suggestive." The critic also called the biography "sophisticated in psychoanalytic theory and the use of evidence."

In Dans la main de l'ange, Fernandez presents a fictionalized psychobiography of the Italian writer and neorealist film director Pier-Paolo Pasolini, who was murdered by a boy prostitute at age fifty-three. Critics, such as John L. Brown in World Literature Today, agreed that the novel draws heavily on the author's own temperament and concerns. Brown wrote that Fernandez "is at ease … inhabiting the shell of Pasolini as though it were his own." John Weightman, writing in the Observer, noted that the work "presents [Pasolini] as a great romantic rebel, valiantly defending his sexual being and his half-Catholic, half-revolutionary ideas against almost universal misunderstanding." In the Times Literary Supplement, Annette Lavers referred to the novel as a recapitulation of such familiar Fernandez themes as sexual marginality and violent death. She described the book as having a "seductively messianic streak, a mixture of dogmatic assertion and reckless self-revelation," but added that it was "a good read with plenty of bravura passages." Weigthman praised Dans la main de l'ange for its "brilliant accounts of Italian life."

L'amour, published in 1986, concerns the emotional, psychological, and artistic quest of a bisexual painter, Friedrich Overbeck, torn between two loves and two personas. In the novel La gloire du paria, Fernandez presents an early and, to some, romanticized treatment of AIDS. In Le rapt de Ganymède, an opera libretto, Fernandez once again takes up the subject of gay culture, including what he sees as the homosexual wellsprings of art and music. London Observer contributor Robin Smyth commented that the author "is at his best when he examines the remarkably epicene art of the Revolutionary era." In his novel L'école du sud, Fernandez offers a fictional account of the lives of his parents. In flight from French authorities who want to arrest him for his fascist activities during World War II, Fernandez's father's fictional counterpart, Porfirio Vasconcellos, takes refuge in his native Sicily and ponders the failure of his marriage to a woman from northern France. In the sequel, Porfirio et Constance, Porfirio relates what Marie-Thérèse Noiset called in the French Review "the disaster" that is his life. The narrator shares the pariah status common to Fernandez protagonists, and in this very status finds peace, Noiset suggested. World Literature Today contributor Bettina L. Knapp commented that "the well-integrated historical exegeses … are of significant interest to the reader."

In 1994, Fernandez turned his attention to the Medicis, particularly the chaotic last days of their rule. The resulting fiction, Le dernier des Médicis, takes the form of a journal kept by the personal doctor of the 150 last dukes of Florence, a man devoted to evil and condemned to self-destruction. Like other Fernandez antiheroes, Gian Gaston de Medicis is homosexual, and his romances lead to disaster. He agrees to marry an ugly widow and ends his reign in a series of debaucheries.

The Russian composer Piotr Ilitch Tchaikovsky is the subject of yet another historical novel, Tribunal d'honneur. In this tale set in nineteenth-century St. Petersburg in the time of Alexander III, Fernandez gives life to the rumor that the composer, rather than dying of cholera, was a homosexual martyr, condemned to death by a "tribunal of honor" for his interest in a cornetist from a distinguished Russian family. French Review contributor Noiset praised the novel for both its depictions of Imperial Russia and its psychological verisimilitude, particularly in its portrayal of Tchaikovsky. "Reality and fiction mix in the depiction of a sensitive, melancholy and tender nature," wrote Noiset.

Fernandez has also written about homosexuality and art, including his book A Hidden Love: Art and Homosexuality. The book looks at homosexuality in art, particularly sculpture, from the Classical Greek era on through Renaissance Europe and into the Far East. The book includes "350 color illustrations and elegant and eminently readable prose," as noted by Library Journal contributor Jeff Ingram. David McConnell, writing in the Lambda Book Report, commented: "Relaxed, un-categorical, he discusses homosexual artists and themes, touches on social history. Here and there he tries his hand at steamy connoisseurship and, happily, he isn't stingy with anecdotes … or with the odd insane opinion. He proves to be an altogether entertaining companion. He brings the spirit of the cafe to this arm-stretching coffee table compendium."

Fernandez has also produced many travel books, often with the collaboration of photographer Ferrante Ferranti, such as his account of Romania titled The Romanian Rhapsody: An Overlooked Corner of Europe, which an Afterimage contributor described as "the song of a passionate, dignified people balancing an intricate past with a delicate future." In addition, Fernandez has been active as a scholar, editing works by Alexandre Dumas and others, and writing an appraisal of Dumas titled Les douze muses d'Alexandre Dumas.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:


PERIODICALS


Afterimage, January, 2001, review of The Romanian Rhapsody: An Overlooked Corner of Europe, p. 40.

Atlantic Monthly, February, 1977, Phoebe-Lou Adams, review of Porporino, or The Secrets of Naples, p. 99

Booklist, April 1, 1977, review of Porporino, or The Secrets of Naples, pp. 1144-1145; January 1, 1984, review of Le volcan sous la ville, p. 668; December 15, 1998, review of Le radeau de la Gorgone: promenades en Sicile, p. 686.

French Review, March, 1993, Marie-Thérèse Noiset, review of L'école du sud, pp. 686-687; May, 1994, Marie-Thérèse Noiset, review of Porfirio et Constance, pp. 1104-1105; December, 1995, Marie-Thérèse Noiset, review of Le dernier des Médicis, pp. 368-369; March, 1999, Marie-Thérèse Noiset, review of Tribunal d'honneur, pp. 776-777.

Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide, March-April, 2003, Wayne R. Dynes, review of A Hidden Love: Art and Homosexuality, p. 41.

Guardian Weekly, October 15, 1978, review of L'étoile rose, p. 14; October 3, 1982, review of Dans la main de l'ange, p. 13.

Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 1976, review of Porporino, or The Secrets of Naples, p. 1183.

Lambda Book Report, April 28, 2006, David McConnell, review of A Hidden Love.

L'Esprit Createur, winter, 1995, Arnold Saxton, "AIDS and Death," pp. 104-106.

Library Journal, January 15, 1977, George Soete, review of Porporino, or The Secrets of Naples, pp. 217-218; October 15, 2002, Jeff Ingram, review of A Hidden Love, p. 68.

Observer (London, England), December 31, 1978, review of L'étoile rose, p. 25; January 2, 1983, John Weightman, "From the Crab Baskety," p. 46; December 31, 1989, Robin Smyth, "Coming-out Party," p. 37.

Publishers Weekly, November 1, 1976, review of Porporino, or The Secrets of Naples, p. 66; August 10, 1984, review of Rome: Mirror of the Centuries, p. 69.

Quarterly Review of Film Studies, fall, 1981, James Goodwin, "Plusieurs Einsensteins: Recent Criticism," pp. 391-412.

Saturday Review, February 5, 1977, review of Porporino, or The Secrets of Naples, p. 29.

Times Literary Supplement, July 14, 1971, review of L'arbre jusqu'aux racines, p. 817; July 24, 1981, Patrick Bowles, "Death in Trieste," p. 835; January 7, 1983, Annette Lavers, "Son and Martyr," p. 23.

World Literature Today, autumn, 1983, John L. Brown, review of Dans la main de l'ange, p. 600; winter, 1988, Deborah Morsink, review of L'amour, p. 86; summer, 1992, review of L'école du sud, p. 483; autumn, 1992, Bettina L. Knapp, review of Porfirio et Constance, p. 683.

ONLINE


Matt & Andrej Koymasky Home Page,http://andrejkoymasky.com/ (April 28, 2006), biography of author.

Nuit Blanche Web site,http://www.nuitblanche.com/ (June 12, 2006), Sandra Friedrich, review of Les douze muses d'Alexandre Dumas.

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Fernandez, Dominique 1929-