Dreaming in French: The Paris Years of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Susan Sontag, and Angela Davis

Joanna Biggs writes:

If being a young woman in postwar America was suffocating, why not try Paris? Alice Kaplan’s Dreaming in French tells the story of three college girls – Jacqueline Bouvier, Susan Sontag and Angela Davis – who did. Kaplan, who wrote about her own year abroad in the memoir French Lessons, takes the three, who didn’t meet, as examples of mid-20th-century types: the (Catholic) aesthete, the (Jewish) bohemian and the (black) political activist. In Paris it was possible to be nicely dressed and clever, an intellectual and a novelist, philosophical and political. There they didn’t have to choose between jeans and mink or intellect and motherhood; their lives could be ‘doubled’, as Bouvier put it.

(LRB 2 August 2012)

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