Jeffrey H. JacksonJan 28, 2022
Two Artists Who Risked Their Lives to Defy the Nazis
Algonquin Books 2020
Want to read a fantastic book about art, love, politics, and resistance during the Second World War? Jeffrey H. Jackson's Paper Bullets: Two Artists Who Risked Their Lives to Defy the Nazis (Algonquin Books, 2020) is a riveting account of the lives of Lucy Schwob/Claude Cahun) and Suzanne Malherbe/Marcel Moore, two French artists whose remarkable creative and romantic relationship spanned many tumultuous decades. The story of their love and work activates important themes and questions regarding the histories of art, gender, sexuality, the avant-garde, Jewishness, and more during this period of French and European history.
Offering readers fresh perspective on the deep connection that Lucy/Claude and Suzanne/Marcel shared, the book is focused on the period from the late-1930s through the end of the Second World War when the pair lived together on the German-Occupied island of Jersey in the English Channel. Drawing on extensive research in archives hitherto been neglected by other scholars, Paper Bullets tells the fascinating story of the ways Lucy and Suzanne challenged German authority through a secret campaign of "paper bullets," notes and other tokens they left for German soldiers to find in unexpected places--a church collection box, the windshield of a car, a coat pocket, etc. These missives posed questions, made jokes, expressed resistance, and eventually got the two arrested, tried, and sentenced to death (the sentence was appealed just before the end of the war). Exciting and inspiring, this history will be compelling to readers across multiple fields and interests. I just couldn't put it down and was delighted to have this chance to speak to its author.
Roxanne Panchasi is an Associate Professor of History at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada who specializes in twentieth and twenty-first century France and its empire. If you have a recent title to suggest for the podcast, please send her an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).