When I was offered the opportunity to review Claude Lanzmann's memoir, The Patagonian Hare
, I jumped at the chance, though I had never before heard his name. Just the fact that he was one of Simone de Beauvoir's lovers compelled my interest. Over the past several years, I have spent hours making my way through Beauvoir's The Second Sex
, a book that, for me, aligned a more philosophical understanding of what it means to be a woman with what I already felt in my heart and body. I have read all of her novels, two volumes of her memoirs, and the fascinating exploration of her committed yet notoriously open relationship with Jean Paul Sartre, Tête À Tête
, by Hazel Rowley. I admit to being a complete Beauvoir geek; how could I not read about the only man she actually lived with for seven years?
Still, I was somehow innocently unaware of the...
Beyond the Book
In 1974, Claude Lanzmann took a leave from journalism to begin work on his landmark, nine-and-a-half hour long film about the Holocaust, Shoah
(1985). As he explains in an interview with NPR (March 2012), he chose the title Shoah
(Hebrew for "catastrophe") because he dislikes the word "holocaust," which translates as "a burnt religious sacrifice." He couldn't see for which Gods so many innocent people had been killed. The word shoah
was less familiar, inexplicit, and not as easily understood. It more accurately depicted his feelings about such a terrible event. He reflects that, "...the truth is that there is no name for what happened."