"Even if I lived a hundred lives, I still wouldn't be exhausted." These words capture the intensity of the experiences of Claude Lanzmann, a man whose acts have always been a negation of resignation: a member of the Resistance at sixteen, a friend to Jean-Paul Sartre and a lover to Simone de Beauvoir, and the director of one of the most important films in the history of cinema, Shoah.
In these pages, Lanzmann composes a hymn to life that flows from memory yet has the rhythm of a novel, as tumultuous as it is energetic. The Patagonian Hare is the story of a man who has searched at every moment for existential adventure, who has committed himself deeply to what he believes in, and who has made his life a battle.
The Patagonian Hare, a number-one bestseller in France, has been translated into Spanish, German, Italian, Hebrew, Polish, Dutch, and Portuguese. Claude Lanzmann's brilliant memoir has been widely acclaimed as a masterpiece, was hailed as "a true literary and historic event" in the pages of Le Monde, and was awarded the prestigious Welt-Literaturpreis in Germany.
This remarkable debut of Lanzmann, world-renowned French journalist and film director most celebrated for his epic nine-and-a-half hour Holocaust documentary Shoah, illuminates the depth and breadth of a man's life in the context of enormous historical change and upheaval. His guiding voice weaves through events both comedic and grave, for just as his film is an oral history of the Holocaust, his memoir is an oral recollection of his life, told in great spurts of vocal energy (the text was dictated to assistants), fluid in time and chronology, and vividly detailed. Lanzmann discusses his work as a French resistance fighter during WWII, stealing philosophy books as a student in Paris, his relationship with Sartre and his affair with Simone de Beauvoir, and his sister's suicide. Lanzmann candidly reveals all, "simply to tell the truth." For "Where, if not in this book," he asks, "will it be told?" The incredible determination required to make Shoah speaks to Lanzmann's extraordinary artistic and humane vision: "I only obeyed my own rules, not yielding to the constraints of time or money, or those people who pressed me to finish. But that was how I was." This captivating and inspiring memoir attests to the fact that Lanzmann unyieldingly remains an individual dedicated to telling stories that matter, including his own.