Crime and the Académie Française by Patrick Marnham - review by Geoffrey Wheatcroft

Geoffrey Wheatcroft

A Severe Antidote for Francophilia

Crime and the Académie Française

By

Viking 260pp £16.99 order from our bookshop
 

Philia is a dangerous complaint, in whatever form. When Americans succumb to Anglophilia the condition is like a brain tumour: usually incurable and sometimes terminal. Among the English the most acute variety is Italophilia, though it is worth remembering that Germanophilia was even more virulent among our educated classes in the last half of the last century. But none of these has so long a history as Francophilia. ‘French flu’ is still an affliction which lays low many Englishmen (and Englishwomen also: poor Nancy Mitford was a particularly tragic case).

The symptoms are easily recognisable. No one is a sufferer who merely loves French food and wine, any more than someone can be certified as a philiac who loves Italian painting or German music (though the infection can start through all of these). Nor is it a morbid symptom to

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter