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The Earth and Sky of Jacques Dorme
|Andreï Makine The Earth and Sky of Jacques Dorme|
Arcade Publishing 2005 / / 206 pages
ISBN : 1559707399
Original Title: La Terre et le ciel de Jacques Dorme .
Translated By: Geoffrey Strachan
List Price: $23.00
Where does a novel such as The Earth and Sky of Jacques Dorme glean its enchanting force? Perhaps in the fact that its author Andreï Makine Russian author of French expression excels at articulating the complexity of history: legendary while real, concerning that which is the most personal for an individual and at the same time inseparable from the destiny of peoples. In the context of the themes that he embraces lovers passion frustrated by history; memories and their passing-down; the absence of mutual understanding, or the historic and culture rupture between the east and the west The Earth and Sky of Jacques Dorme might appear to be the final chapter in a Franco-Russian trilogy; the first two being Dreams of my Russian Summers and Requiem For a Lost Empire .
The story unfolds in the mid 1960s. Confronted with the harshness of a Soviet orphanage for the children of dead heroes, an adolescent finds solace in reading French books and in the maternal tenderness of an older French woman whose name changes Choura today, Alexandra yesterday according to time and space. Choura-Alexandra (her real name is never revealed) tells him of her affection for a French aviator who had come to fight at Stalingrad in 1942. The one who wished to be called Jacques Dorme (reference to René Dorme, a fighter pilot from Lorraine and relatively unknown hero from the first World War was part of the Alsib (Alaska-Siberia) squadron, charged with the convoy of six thousand aircraft from Alaska to Siberia, thus maintaining a link between the USSR and the United States.
Choura-Alexandra is perhaps the counterpart to Charlotte Lemonnier, who in Dreams of my Russian Summers brings the since-forgotten Paris of her childhood to life through stories recounted to her grandson. As in his earlier novels, The Earth and Sky of Jacques Dorme poses the question of identity laced with a sense of belonging shared between two places, two languages. Makine delivers a lavishly written account of the narrators quest for his origins, who as an adult decides to set out upon the paths of this unsung hero, first in the mountains of Siberia and then in the suburbs of Paris where he comes across the brother of the missing pilot in short order. Finally, an opportunity to compare his Russian adolescence filled with youthful idealism and which placed high importance on the French language with the lost generation of contemporary France.
Thomas Regnier /Translated from the French by Edward C Hollo
( Mis en ligne le 28/04/2005 )
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