A Dutiful Son

Pascal Bruckner,

A Dutiful Son
 
 
Pascal Bruckner's memoir reads like a novel, a Bildungsroman which charts his journey from pious Catholic child to leading philosopher and writer on French culture.

The key figure in Bruckner's life is his father, a virulent anti-Semite, who voluntarily went to work in Germany during the Second World War. He is a violent man who beats his wife. The young Bruckner soon reacts against his father and his revenge is to become his polar opposite, even to the point of being happy to be called a ‘Jewish thinker’, which he is not. ‘My father helped me to think better by thinking against him. I am his defeat.’ .

Despite this opposition, he remains tied to his father to the very end. He has other ‘fathers’, men such as Sartre, Vladimir Jankélévitch and Roland Barthes who fostered his philosophical development, and describes his friendship with his ‘philosophical twin brother’, Alain Finkielkraut. .

A great read for anyone interested in the 1960s, the intellectual life of France and the father and son relationship.


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