5/1: Looking for “The Stranger”: Albert Camus and the Life of a Literary Classic with Alice Kaplan

Albert Camus’s L’Etranger has been best-seller for so long, we forget it was ever anything else.  But literary classics are made, not born: though The Stranger was a book very few readers understood or appreciated when it was published in 1942, it became a household name—a regular on lists of the great books of the 20th century.  Alice Kaplan delved into publishers’ archives to uncover a key episode in L’Etranger’s career: the first translation of the French novel into English, in the United States and in England, four years after its publication—in 1946, when the war in Europe had been over for only a year.  This is a tale of two cities, involving an author, his publishers, his translator, and his readers and reviewers.

Alice Kaplan, John M. Musser Professor of French at Yale University, is a specialist of 20th century France.  She works at the intersection of literature and history, using a method that allies archival research with textual analysis. She is a former Guggenheim Fellow, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a recipient of the French Légion d’Honneur as well the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in History for The Collaborator (2000). Recent books include Dreaming in French (2012) and Looking for The Stranger (2016).

Monday, May 1, 2017
6th Floor Moynihan Boardroom
Woodrow Wilson Center

The Washington History Seminar is co-chaired by Eric Arnesen (George Washington University) and Christian Ostermann (Woodrow Wilson Center) and is sponsored jointly by the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Wilson Center’s History and Public Policy Program. It meets weekly during the academic year. The seminar thanks the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and the George Washington University History Department for their support.