Two Sorbonne professors, the distinguished medievalist Gustave Cohen and the existentialist philosopher Jean Wahl, organized these "Pontigny" sessions, named after an abbey in Burgundy where similar symposia had been held in the decades before the war. Among the participants—many of whom were Jewish or had Jewish backgrounds—were the philosophers Hannah Arendt and Rachel Bespaloff, the poets Marianne Moore and Wallace Stevens, the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss and the linguist Roman Jakobson, and the painters Marc Chagall and Robert Motherwell.
In this collection of original essays, Stanley Cavell and Jacques Derrida lead an international group of scholars—including Jed Perl, Mary Ann Caws, Jeffrey Mehlman, and Elisabeth Young-Bruehl—in assessing the lasting impact and contemporary signiï¬cance of Pontigny-en- Amérique. Rachel Bespaloff, a tragicï¬gure who wrote a major work on the Iliad, is restored to her rightful place beside Arendt and Simone Weil. Anyone interested in the "intellectual resistance" of Francophone intellectuals and artists, and the inspiring support from such Americanï¬gures as Stevens and Moore, will want to read this pioneering work of scholarship and historical re-creation.
"Conversations, conferences, and symposia are evanescent; their most crucial moments are often unrecoverable, happening as they do in the hallway or over coffee. Pontigny-in-America is the great exception, and the essays in this volume do a superb job in capturing its importance. The conjunction of people who attended is so startling and so curious—Wallace Stevens and Claude Lévi-Strauss, Robert Motherwell and Hannah Arendt—that anyone involved in the intellectual life willï¬nd something rewarding here."—Michael Gorra, author of The Bells in Their Silence:
Travels through Germany
"The volume contains rewarding nuggets of intellectual history and scholarly reflection."—French Studies