Nathalie G. Cornelius, associate professor of French
Nathalie G. Cornelius, Ph.D., recently had two book reviews published in The French Review. In December 2011, appearing was her review of Chochana Boukhobza’s novel Le troisième jour, the story of Rachel and her impresario Elisheva, two Jewish cellists who return to Jerusalem after five years to give a concert.
Amidst the violence and the beauty of politically charged Israël at the height of the first Intifada in 1990, the area’s history becomes a backdrop for a painful return to their origins.
In February 2012, published was her review of Agnès Michaux’s Les sentiments, a literary reconstruction of the onset and aftermath of the affair between Marilyn Monroe and French actor/singer Yves Montand. The novel distills the experiences to emotional states rather than factual incidents, where perspectives shift from one protagonist to another in an effort to propose an alternate view of the famous events.
September — Cornelius, Ph.D., had her review of Fred Vargas’s novel “Un Lieu incertain” published in the Feb. '10 edition of The French Review. Vargas’s most recent work brings back Commissioner Adamsberg, who must solve a brutal murder in France that appears linked to some abandoned shoes (complete with the owners’ feet) in England’s Highgate cemetery.
Through the novel, Vargas succeeds in pinpointing the psychological essence of humanity, this “lieu incertain” or uncertain place that originates in a distant past. Thus the novel’s scope supersedes its detective plot as it traces the transmission and manipulation of cultural and genetic heritage through local tradition, language and family.
March — Cornelius, Ph.D., had her review of Jean-Christophe Grangé’s most recent novel, "Miserere," published in the April 2010 issue of The French Review. Miserere is the second part of a trilogy that delves into the nature of evil and explores the link between social and biological pasts, memory, and individual action.
By combining fact with fiction, Grangé convincingly affirms humanity’s penchant for mixing pleasure and violence. The title, which alludes to a piece of choral music by Gregorio Allegri, is a piece whose publication was forbidden by the Vatican, and contains the highest note sung by the human voice. Through the literary language in Grangé’s novel, musical construction is transposed into an inspirational model for murder that has its roots in World War II and whose path extends from Chile to France to Cameroon.
February — Cornelius, Ph.D., has just had her book review of L'absence de l'ogre by Dominique Sylvain, published in the February 2009 edition of The French Review. Sylvain's fourth detective novel interweaves murder with light philosophical and social reflections as it travels between Paris and New Orleans, between literary references and historical fact. Through the characters' discussions the novel becomes a vehicle for social commentary on France and the United States, countries with different personalities and challenges, but with a capacity for cooperation and mutual respect.
February — Cornelius, Ph.D., had her review of Fred Vargas’s novel “Un Lieu incertain” published in the Feb. '10 edition of The French Review. Vargas’s most recent work brings back Commissioner Adamsberg, who must solve a brutal murder in France that appears linked to some abandoned shoes (complete with the owners’ feet) in England’s Highgate cemetery.
April — Cornelius, Ph.D., has had her review of Alain Denis's novel Foule intime published in the April 2009 edition of The French Review. Foule intime explores French Canadian identity and culture through an analysis of personal space and its relationship to contemporary art, politics and the media. Structured around a professor listening to secretly taped student conversations, the novel intersperses a series of dialogues with the professor's commentaries on a class assignment to assess private space as depicted through modern literature.
However, shifts in the balance of power, divisions within the student group working on the project, and personal insecurities progressively enmesh the students in a game of testing and transgressing the personal boundaries of their peers.