Poirot-Delpech, Bertrand 1929-
POIROT-DELPECH, Bertrand 1929-
PERSONAL: Born February 10, 1929, in Paris, France. Education: Attended Lycée Louis-le-Grand (Paris, France).
ADDRESSES: Home—Paris, France. Office—c/o Le Monde, 80, Boulevard Auguste Blanqui, 75707 Paris, France.
CAREER: Writer. Le Monde, Paris, France, journalist, 1951–59, theater critic, 1960–72, columnist for Monde des Livres, 1972–89, author of weekly column, 1989–. Head of drama critics' union, Paris, France, 1970–72. Member of reading panel, Comédie-Française.
MEMBER: Académie Française.
AWARDS, HONORS: Lauréat du Prix Interaillié, 1958, for Fool's Paradise; Grand Prix du Roman, Académie Française, 1970, for La folle de Lituanie; named commandeur, Légion d'Honneur (France); named officier des Arts et Lettres.
Le grand dadais (also see below), Éditions Denoël (Paris, France), 1958, translated by Cornelia Schaeffer as Fool's Paradise, Harper (New York, NY), 1959.
La grasse matinée, Éditions Denoël (Paris, France), 1960.
L'envers de l'eau, Éditions Denoël (Paris, France), 1963.
La folle de Lituanie, Éditions Gallimard (Paris, France), 1970.
La légende du siècle, Éditions Gallimard (Paris, France), 1976.
Les grands de ce monde, Éditions Gallimard (Paris, France), 1976.
Saïd et moi, Éditions du Seuil (Paris, France), 1980.
Marie Duplessis, "la dame aux camélias," Éditions Ramsay (Paris, France), 1981.
L'été '36 (novel; title means "The Summer of '36"; also see below), Éditions Gallimard (Paris, France), 1984.
Le golfe de Gascogne, Éditions Gallimard (Paris, France), 1989.
Traversées, Flammarion (Paris, France), 1989.
L'amour de l'humanité, Éditions Gallimard (Paris, France), 1994.
Monsieur le prince, Éditions Gallimard (Paris, France), 1999.
Le grand dadais (adapted from his novel of the same title), CICC, 1967.
Été '36 (adapted from his novel L'été 36), Antenne 2, 1986.
Moi, Général de Gaulle (based on The De Gaulle Story by William Faulkner), 1990.
L'éternel mari (based on the story "The Eternal Husband" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky), TF 1, 1993.
Le hussard (based on the book by Hans Silvester), Éditions du Chêne (Paris, France), 1995.
Samson le magnifique, 1995.
Le Cocu magnifique (based on the book by Fernand Crommelynck), France 3, 1999.
Au soir le soir, Mercure de France (Paris, France), 1966.
Finie la comédie; théâtre 1960–1970 (reviews), Mercure de France (Paris, France), 1969.
Feuilletons, 1972–1982 (reviews), Éditions Gallimard (Paris, France), 1982.
Le couloir du dancing (memoir), Éditions Gallimard (Paris, France), 1982.
Entretiens avec "Le Monde": littératures (interviews), Éditions la Découverte (Paris, France), 1984.
Bonjour Sagan (biography), Herscher (Paris, France), 1985.
Monsieur Barbie n'a rien à dire (nonfiction), Éditions Gallimard (Paris, France), 1987.
Discours de réception de Bertrand Poirot-Delpech à l'académie française et réponse d'Alain Decaux (lecture), Éditions Gallimard (Paris, France), 1988.
Rue des Italiens (photographic essay), illustrated by Nicolas Guilbert, Éditions la Découverte (Paris, France), 1990.
Les années Montparnasse (photographic essay), Contrejour (Paris, France), 1990.
Dialogues (interviews), Cent Pages (Grenoble, France), 1990.
Diagonales (essays), Éditions Gallimard (Paris, France), 1995.
L'alerte, théâtre [and] Un doigt de porto, Éditions Gallimard (Paris, France), 1997.
Théâtre d'ombres: journal de l'année 1997 (literary criticism), Éditions du Seuil (Paris, France), 1998.
Papon: un crime de bureau (nonfiction), Stock (Paris, France), 1998.
(With Paul Ambille) La Jeanne d'Arc: une campagne imaginaire (biography), Éditions Barthélémy (Paris, France), 2000.
J'écris paludes (essay), Éditions Gallimard (Paris, France), 2001.
(With Ida Grinspan) J'ai ne pas pleuré (biography; title means "I Did Not Cry"), Robert Laffont (Paris, France), 2002.
Contributor of articles and prefaces to books, including François Mitterrand: un homme président, Filipacchi (Paris, France), 1987, and 300e anniversaire de la première édition du dictionnaire, Palais de l'Institut (Paris, France). Contributor of reviews to periodicals, including Nouvelle Revue Française.
Poirot-Delpech's works have been translated into Spanish and German.
SIDELIGHTS: A longtime fixture at the Parisian newspaper Le Monde, Bertrand Poirot-Delpech has written hundreds of articles and columns, some of which have been collected in such works as Feuilletons, 1972–1982, Dialogues, and Diagonales. Feuilletons compiles 1,000 book reviews that first appeared in Poirot-Delpech's column, "Monde des Livres." He culled these from some 4,000 columns that appeared during his decade as Le Monde's principal book critic, and to write these reviews he read some 10,000 books, spending eight hours reading each day. Unlike the erudite and difficult-to-comprehend studies published in literary journals, Poirot-Delpech's reviews represent his own responses to the works in hand, which Mortimer Guiney, writing in World Literature Today, described as those of "a remarkably perceptive and intelligent reader." Likewise, Steve Romer praised Poirot-Delpech's efforts in his Times Literary Supplement review: "They represent a substantial contribution to what is best in literary journalism: economy of means, consistency of touch, unflagging curiosity and a learning that is lightly worn," According to Guiney, the reviews are "well written, informative and, occasionally, revelatory of uncommon critical judgment. The total achievement is impressive."
Poirot-Delpech is also the author of several novels in which he gives readers fictional treatments of social history. Of these works, Le grand dadais, translated as Fool's Paradise, has become a classic in both its book and movie versions. Another memorable novel is his 1984 offering, L'été '36. In it the author portrays the tensions in France during the summer of 1936, giving attention to the landowners, the workers, the strictly religious, the atheists, the fascists, and the communists. John L. Brown noted in World Literature Today that some of the characters are stereotyped, yet the main characters, Alexis and Victoire, "emerge as human beings," to "dominate this richly allusive novel, in which many different literary registers, from farce to melodrama, are adroitly orchestrated and which skillfully avoids the danger of sacrificing narrative pace to abstract exposition."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Dictionary of Twentieth Century Culture, Volume 2, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1995.
Guardian (London, England), March 15, 1981, review of La légende du siècle, p. 13.
Times Literary Supplement, September, 25, 1969, review of Finie la comédie théâtre 1960–1970, p. 1046; March 5, 1971, review of La folle de Lituanie, p. 262; December 24, 1982, Stephen Romer, "An Orgy of Intermediacy," review of Feuilletons, 1972–1982 and Le couloir du dancing, p. 1427; February 1, 1991, Jack Hayward, "Saying 'No' to Defeat," review of Moi, Général de Gaulle, p. 20.
World Literature Today, spring, 1978, P.H. Kennedy, review of Les grands de ce monde, p. 258; summer, 1983, Mortimer Guiney, review of Feuilletons, 1972–1982, p. 427; summer, 1985, John L. Brown, review of L'été '36, p. 398; spring, 1995, John Brown, review of L'amour de l'humanité, p. 320; winter, 1997, John L. Brown, review of Diagonales, p. 110.