Ghislaine Dunant's unforgettable biography of Delbo, La vie retrouvée (2016), captivated French readers and was awarded the Prix Femina. Now translated into English for the first time, Charlotte Delbo: A Life Reclaimed depicts Delbo's lifelong battles as a working-class woman, as a survivor, as a leftist who broke from the Communist Party, and most of all, as a writer whose words compelled others to see.
1. In search of Charlotte Delbo
2. 1939-1942: Early war years; work with Louis Jouvet; Cahiers de la Jeunesse; marriage to Georges Dudach; tours of Switzerland and South America; resistance and arrest
3. July 1945-January 1946: Repatriation; None of Us Will Return
4. 1946: Convalescence in Switzerland; short stories; rupture with Jouvet; employment at the United Nations of Geneva
5. 1948: Spectres, mes compagnons; first trip to Greece
6. 1949-1951: A Scene Played on the Stage of Memory; overseas work for the United Nations; love affair with Serge Samarine; the auto-biographical text "February"
7. 1959-1961: Journey to the Soviet Union; A Metro Named Lenin; return to France; employment at the National Center for Scientific Research; opposition to the Algerian war; publication of Les belles lettres; first attempts to publish None of Us Will Return
8. 1961-1965: First trip to the United States; publication of None of Us Will Return; work with Henri Lefebvre
9. 1964-1967: Convoy to Aushwitz
10. 1966: Who Will Carry the Word? and Those Who Had Chosen; early chapters of Useless Knowledge
11. 1969: "The Final Night"
12. 1969: "At First, We Wanted to Sing" and "The Misanthrope"
13. 1968-1970: Plays on May 1968, Prague, and Chile; encounter with Rosette Lamont
14. 1970-1971: First chapters of The Measure of Our Days; French publication of the trilogy Auschwitz and After; American publication of "Phantoms, My Companions"
15. 1970-1971: The Measure of Our Days
16. 1970-1979: The Court Sentence, Et tui, comment as-tu fait?, and Le coup d'état; political editorials; "To a Judith"
17. 1973: Stories of the Station through Which the Train No Longer Passes; publication of "Gaby's Dog"
18. 1973-1974: Spectres, mes compagnons
19. 1974-1977: Publication and reception of Spectres, mes compagnons
20. 1974-1980: Paris production of Who Will Carry the Word?; collaborations with Charles Schumacher and Charles Belmont; Maria Lusitania and Kalvrita of the Thousand Antigones; radio adaptions of plays
21. 1978: Retirement; political op-ed; writing for Le Monde des Livres
22. 1979-1982: Days and Memory; lecture tour in the United States
23. 1982-1985: Days and Memory; "The Seventh Year of the Algerian War"; battle with cancer; final days
"Dunant brings French Holocaust survivor and writer Charlotte Delbo to life in this moving biography . . . With a sharp eye, Dunant offers a perceptive look at a lesser-known literary figure."—Publishers Weekly
"[R]ichly detailed, absorbing, and thoroughly researched . . . this translation is valuable for bringing Delbo to a new audience, and permitting Dunant’s extensive archival research and insightful perspectives on Delbo’s life and work to inform and engage readers.”—French Studies
"This splendid biography brings to life a woman of uncommon courage and intellect who needs to be better known and understood in America, in a fine translation by Kathryn Lachman. Detailed and fully documented, A Life Reclaimed is a gripping narrative told with empathy and deep understanding of the issues and traumas faced by so many in the unhappy history of France in the twentieth century."—David Bellos, author of Georges Perec: A Life in Words
"Five years after its 2016 publication in French, Ghislaine Dunant's award-winning biography of Auschwitz and Ravensbrück survivor and writer Charlotte Delbo has found its voice in English in this lyrical, even musical translation by Kathryn Lachman. Delbo's life and work have long been regarded as essential reading for all students of the Holocaust era, and now this staggeringly beautiful translation of Dunant's brilliant biography is no less essential, a must-read for all who ask how art and literature shape and have been shaped by the concentration camp universe."—James Young, author of The Stages of Memory: Reflections on Memorial Art, Loss, and the Spaces Between
"Charlotte Delbo is one of the most important testimonial writers of the Holocaust, alongside Primo Levi. She is also one of the rare witnesses to have focused on the lives of women in Nazi concentration camps. As the first biography of Delbo to appear in English, A Life Reclaimed is likely to become a reference for anyone seeking context for Delbo's work. The translation is excellent."—David Caron, author of The Nearness of Others: Searching for Tact and Contact in the Age of HIV
"The force and focus of Dunant's biography is its evocation of the lived experience of its subject. Given the extremity, indeed horror, of the central episode of that life, no one should, would, or could suggest that Dunant's biography allows its readers to share Delbo's point of view. What it does do, however, is bring us closer to that perspective, and make unmistakable its importance, not just for understanding (if such a thing is possible) one of the most unspeakable episodes of human history, but for responding to the political exigencies of our own times."—Jim Hicks, executive editor of the Massachusetts Review
Selected as a 2022 Choice Outstanding Academic Title