The Albertine Book Club | Fall/Winter 2019

The most fruitful and natural exercise of the mind, in my opinion, is conversation.
—Michel de Montaigne

Join the staff of Albertine and the French Embassy’s Book Department for a fruitful and lively monthly conversation around classic and contemporary French literature. This season, we will discuss the fascinating relationship between of writers and artists through the work of Honoré de Balzac and Yannick Haenel, libertinage in XVIII’s France as described by Choderlos de Laclos, and the fate of African-born women in XXI Century France as seen through the eyes of Marie N’Diaye.

The Albertine Book Club is open to Albertine Constellation Members and students with a valid student ID. Speakers of French and English are both welcome.

Escape your daily routine for a few hours each month with books, friends and a glass of wine!

The Albertine Book Club is free and open to Albertine members and students with a valid Student ID card. For more information on how to become an Albertine member, click here.


Wednesday, September 18 at 6:30 pm
Dangerous Liaisons by Choderlos de Laclos, translated from the French by Helen Constantine (Penguin)

The complex moral ambiguities of seduction and revenge make Les Liaisons dangereuses (1782) one of the most scandalous and controversial novels in European literature. Its prime movers, the Vicomte de Valmont and the Marquise de Merteuil, gifted, wealthy, and bored, form an unholy alliance and turn seduction into a game — a game which they must win. And they play with such wit and style that it is impossible not to admire them — until they discover that the game has mysterious rules that they cannot understand.

Tuesday, October 15 at 6:30 pm

Hold Fast Your Crown by Yannick Haenel, translated from the French by Teresa Lavender Fagan (Other Press)

Jean Deichel has written an enormous screenplay on the life of Herman Melville. Not a single producer is interested in it. One day, someone gives him the phone number of the great American filmmaker Michael Cimino. A meeting is arranged in New York, and Cimino reads the manuscript. What follows is a series of crazy adventures through Ellis Island, the Musée de la Chasse in Paris, a lake in Italy.
French literature provides an impressive line-up of masterpieces on artists and the creative, and unarguably, Hold Fast Your Crown is a brilliant addition to this rich lineage.

Tuesday, November 19, at 6:30 pm

The Unknown Masterpiece by Honoré de Balzac, translated from the French by Richard Howard (New York Review of Books)

One of Honoré de Balzac’s most celebrated tales, The Unknown Masterpiece is the story of a painter who, depending on one’s perspective, is either an abject failure or a transcendental genius—or both. The story, which has served as an inspiration to artists as various as Cézanne, Henry James, Picasso, and New Wave director Jacques Rivette, is, in critic Dore Ashton’s words, a “fable of modern art.”

Tuesday, December 17 at 6:30 pm
Three Strong Women by Marie N’Diaye, translated from the French by Jordan Stump (Knopf)

Here’s the story of three women who say no. As their lives intertwine, each woman manages an astonishing feat of self-preservation against those who have made themselves the fastest-growing and most-reviled people in Europe.
In Marie NDiaye’s stunning narration we see the progress by which ordinary women discover unimagined reserves of strength.