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The Difficulty of Being a Dog
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About the Author

Roger Grenier, an editor at Editions Gallimard, has published over thirty novels, short stories, and literary essays and is the recipient of numerous prizes, including the Grand Prix de Litterature de l'Academie Francaise. Alice Kaplan is the author of French Lessons and The Collaborator, both published by the University of Chicago Press. She also translated Grenier's novel Another November.

Reviews

What is a dog? In the hands of French fiction writer, essayist and quintessential dog lover Grenier (Another November), the canine emerges over the course of its all too brief life as a faithful and loving companion, a protection against loneliness and life's insults, a connoisseur of foul odors and a playmate always ready to join its owner in cavorting like a fool. In this collection of several dozen delightful and poignant anecdotal pieces, he ranges over our 12,000-year relationship with dogs, from those who appeared in Greek and Roman mythologyDlike the three-headed Cerberus, who guarded the gates of HellDto the dogs that appear in our dreams (in this case, Grenier's dreams of his own old dog, Ulysses). Probing the dark side of the human-dog bond, Grenier sensitively observes how, at times, we humans have been less than faithful to our canine friends, giving rise to such sayings as, "'He died like a dog.'" With whimsical humor and mordant wit, he applies a broad and deep knowledge of literary dog lovers from Homer to Flaubert and Faulkner, elaborating not only on their insights into dog-love and hate but also on what these writers' revelations tell us about ourselves. (Dec.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

"This slim volume is beautifully written, and the prose flows like poetry. The market has been flooded with a plethora of popularly written books attempting to explain canines and why people love them, yet this book... raises the subject to a higher plane. A gem." - Library Journal, starred review "[L]iterate, light and lighthearted....[A] kind of anthology of literary musings about dogs based on Mr. Grenier's extensive readings in everything from Faulkner to the Japanese novelist Junichiro Tanizaki." - Richard Bernstein, New York Times "[A] very superior commonplace book of canine characteristics, the mixture of Grenier's own anecdotes with quotations from other intellectuals making it far from the average gift-shop item - as if Roland Barthes had opted for domestic animals rather than for fashion or photography." - John Stokes, Times Literary Supplement "With whimsical humor and mordant wit, [Grenier] applies a broad and deep knowledge of literary dog lovers from Homer to Flaubert and Faulkner, elaborating not only on their insights into doglove and hate but also on what these writers' revelations tell us about ourselves....[A]n appealing gift item, this slim volume will make lovers both of literature and canines sit up and take notice." - Publishers Weekly

The author of more than 30 books and one of France's most distinguished men of letters, Grenier provides the literate dog lover with an exploration of the human-canine relationship. In 43 vignettes, he attempts to explain why dogs and humans bond, demonstrating that dogs in literature are often metaphors for the human condition. His sources are some of the world's greatest thinkers and writers: Rousseau, Baudelaire, Kafka, Chekhov, Orwell, Flaubert, Turgenev, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The dogs mentioned are no less significant: FDR's Fala, Napoleon's Mumu, Charlie Chaplin's Scraps, Ulysses's Argos, Freud's Liu, and the author's own dog. This slim book is beautifully written, and the prose flows like poetry. The market has been flooded with a plethora of popularly written books attempting to explain canines and why people love them, yet this book, a best seller in France, raises the subject to a higher plane. A gem, it is recommended for public and college libraries alike.DFlorence Scarinci, formerly with Nassau Community Coll. Lib., Garden City, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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