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France's Catalog of the World

While vacationing in France, linguist Geoff Nunberg visited a museum exhibit showcasing an early edition of the Grand Larousse dictionary. He considers the cultural significance of this text, and what it says about how the French view language.


France's "Racy" Electronic Mail.

Language Commentator Geoffrey Nunberg will discuss the effects of Minitel, the computer distributed by the telephone system in France that has brought a word processor to every home with a phone.


Dangerous Liaisons: The Fresh Air Review

Director Stephen Frears directed the adaptation of the play, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, about a contest of sexual conquest and infidelity. Film critic Stephen Schiff praises how it handles eroticism. Despite some casting missteps, he believes it's "a brilliant tarentella" of a movie.


A Forgotten Malle Film Is Back in Theaters

Film critic Stephen Schiff says that Louis Malle's Murmur of the Heart was overshadowed by the string of exceptional movies also released in 1971. The film is shocking in its sexuality and subtlety.


Simon Schama's "Chronicle of the French Revolution"

Book critic John Leonard says the historian's newest work, called Citizen, is intellectually reprehensible, ignoring both past and present scholarship to craft a familiar and tired narrative of French democracy. Yet the writing is lovely, and propelled Leonard to the end of the book, kicking and screaming.


To Picasso, Sex and Art Were the Same Thing

Book critic John Leonard reviews a new Pablo Picasso biography, by the artist's friend John Richardson. The book reveals how Picasso was often cruel to women, deeply apolitical, and overworked.


Author Allen Kurzweil.

Author Allen Kurzweil. Kurzweil's new book, "A Case of Curiosities," is a comic novel about the life of a 18th Century watchmaker living in France in the days before the Revolution. (It's published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich). (Interview by Marty Moss-Coane)


How Napoleon Resonates with a Contemporary Writer

John Leonard reviews "The Emperor's Last Island," by Julia Blackburn, a history of Napoleon with frequent digressions about why that narrative is relevant to the author's life. Leonard says it's a compelling read because Blackburn herself is compelling.

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