Home | Reviews | Blog | Daily | Glossary | Orrin's Stuff | Email

Romain Gary made his fame and fortune with The Roots of Heaven, one of our Best of the Century. But he started winning prizes even with his first novel, A European Education (1945), hand-written, with his knees for a desk, while he was flying with Free French Forces over Europe.

It tells the story of a young Polish boy, Janek, whose father hides him in a dugout in the forest when the Germans are coming. Raised on the books of Karl May, Janek begins by imagining himself part of an Old Shatterhand advanture. But, over the next few years, as he struggles to survive, joins a band of partisans, falls in love with a teen prostitute, and learns to kill he receives the education of the title:
In Europe we have the oldest cathedrals, the oldest universities, the greatest libraries and the best education. But in the end, what this European education comes down to is to teach you how to find the courage to shoot a man who sits there with lowered head...
It's an inevitably dark view of the continent , from a man whose Jewish family had fled Vilnius, but in the resistance of Janek and the Poles and their battle for freedom we also get the idealism with which Gary offset his dim take on the times.


Grade: (A)


See also:

Romain Gary (2 books reviewed)
French Literature
Romain Gary Links:

    -Romain Gary (1914-1980) - original surname Kacew, also wrote as Émile Ajar (kirjasto)
    -WIKIPEDIA: Romain Gary
    -FILMOGRAPHY: Romain Gary (IMDB)
    -PROFILE: Romain Gary: au revoir et merci: Romain Gary was the most glamorous of literary conmen. He wrote novels under many names, won major prizes and married an iconic actress. But in the end, writes David Bellos, his fictions destroyed him. (David Bellos, 12 Nov 2010, Telegraph)
    -PROFILE: Great Pretenders: In Romain Gary’s family, invention was the necessity of mother and son (Emma Garman, Oct 31, 2007, Tablet)
    -BOOK PAGE: Romain Gary: The Man Who Sold His Shadow by Ralph Schoolcraft (University of Pennsylvania Press)
    -GOOGLE BOOK: Romain Gary: the man who sold his shadow By Ralph W. Schoolcraft
    -PROFILE: Romain Gary: A Short Biography (Madeleine Schwartz, Harvard Advocate)
-ESSAY: Romain Gary's The Dance of Genghis Cohn (commentary by rbadac)
    -ESSAY: Tirvengadum, "Linguistic Fingerprints and Literary Fraud"
    -PROFILE: The Furious Literary Prankster, Romain Gary (Benjamin Ivry, 9/20/10, The Arty Semite)
    -ARTICLE: Literary odd man out: THE Museum of Letters and Manuscripts in Paris recently paid a somewhat belated homage to one of the most popular but also enigmatic and controversial literary figures of our times. (Zafar Masud, April 14, 2011, Dawn)
    -ARTICLE: Romain Gary, Vilnius-born French Jewish novelist, honoured with statue (AFP, 6/24/07)
    -ESSAY: Congress, Torture and Romain Gary's 'Chien Blanc' (Benjamin Davis, December 2007, JURIST)
    -REVIEW: of A European Education by Romain Gary (TIME, 5/14/1960)
    -REVIEW ESSAY: Brought to book: How Romain Gary achieved ‘consecration in the Pléiade’ David Coward, TLS)
    -REVIEW: of Pseudo (Hocus Bogus) by Romain Gary (David Bellow, The Browser)
    -REVIEW: of Romain Gary’s “Hocus Bogus” (Morten Høi Jensen, Words without Borders)
    -REVIEW: of
-REVIEW: of The Life Before Us (Madame Rosa) by Romain Gary (EuroWeekly)
    -REVIEW: of Romain Gary: A Tall Story, By David Bellos (David Coward , Independent)
    -REVIEW: of Romain Gary: A Tall Story (Patricia Duncker, Literary Review)
    -REVIEW: of Romain Gary: A Tall Story (STUART KELLY, The Scotsman)
    -REVIEW: of Tall Story (Josh Lacey, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Tall Story (Stoddard Martin, Jewish Chronicle)
    -REVIEW: of Tall Story (Gilbert Adair, Spectator)

Book-related and General Links: