Claude Lanzmann's haunting film, Shoah, stayed with me for a long time when I saw it many years ago. While the film's subject was not totally unfamiliar, the originality and artful way it was presented left me wondering who the film maker was. It was with great excitement that on a recent trip to Paris, France, I saw Lanzmann's autobiography, Le Lièvre de Patagonie, in the window of a bookshop. I bought it and put it aside for a few months keeping it for when I would be recovering from surgery. What an extraordinary experience to have had Claude Lanzmann keep me company through my recovery. Such an exemplary life, from the time he was a member of the French Resistance in 1944 at the age of 18, to accepting a teaching post a few years later in post-war Berlin, to his friendships with some of the most interesting people of the last century including Franz Fanon, Sartre--who wrote roles in his plays specifically for Lanzmannn's beautiful sister--to Beauvoir with whom he fell madly in love and shared an apartment for more than eight years. Lanzmann is a political and fearless man which took him all over the world for research for various projects, including a newly formed Israel and a more mature Israel, to revolutionary Algeria, North Korea, and many countries undergoing turmoil and change.
The last section of the book tells of the difficulties in putting his famous film, Shoah, together, but the tenacity and unwillingness to compromise speak eloquently to this man's character. He is well into his eighties now, and if the quality of his writing is any indication, he is still mentally sound and, it would seem, physically active. He writes " I am neither bored nor tired of the world, I would not grow weary of one hundred lives." This quote is my translation from the original French and I hope that this amazing book will soon be available in English. I would not grow weary of reading and rereading it in either language.
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