The Schmooze

Bernard Frank: France’s Much-Missed Literary Wit

In 2006, when the French Jewish author Bernard Frank dropped dead of a heart attack while dining with a cardiologist friend at a fancy Paris restaurant, readers felt it was a fitting end for this waspish gourmet with a fine talent for conviviality.

Since his death at age 77, Frank’s articles on books, gourmet food and wine, for Le Monde and other periodicals, have been regularly reprinted and avidly enjoyed by readers. Now, an affectionate new tribute has appeared by French journalist Martine de Rabaudy, “A Season with Bernard Frank,” from Les éditions Flammarion.

After starting out his literary career in the 1950s by writing a handful of novels, Frank devoted himself to the genres of memoir and literary chronicle, offering mercilessly funny pen portraits of some self-involved French men of letters. Of the academician Jean d’Ormesson, Frank said: “He’s always joyful, always so self-satisfied that it would seem churlish to ruin his delight in being himself.” When French writer Patrick Modiano published a book of conversations with the elderly French Jewish author Emmanuel Berl, Frank wisecracked that Modiano’s “passion for old duffers is such that it almost reaches the level of indecent assault.”

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Bernard Frank: France’s Much-Missed Literary Wit

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