Pausing For A Backward Glance, is about the effect the Dreyfus Affaire in fin-de-siecle France had on the iconic figures of French culture––Monet, Cezanne, Degas, Pissarro, Proust, Debussy, and the effect they had on those events. And how that Affaire roiled the very foundations of French civilization.
Juxtaposing that event with the post-war investigations by the House Un-American Activities Committee into our Hollywood icons, the book examines the similarities between those seminal events and how it roiled our own culture.
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Pausing For A Backward Glance
Hollywood screenwriter uncovers betrayals and divided loyalties in
fin-de-siècle France, post-war Hollywood
“Pausing For a Backward Glance,” by Jack Salem, is a fictional account of a 1950s screenwriter whose personal life in America mirrors her shocking discoveries in France
LOS ANGELES – In a story of intrigue and suspicion, ruined lives and relationships, Jack Salem’s new work of historical fiction, “Pausing For a Backward Glance” (ISBN 1456322710) juxtaposes two seminal events – the devastating effect the Dreyfus Affaire had on the crown jewels of French culture, and the House Un-American Activities Committee’s hearings on post-war Hollywood.
Set in the summer of 1950, “Pausing For a Backward Glance” is the story of Sally Apple, a spirited young screenwriter with a new assignment from her Hollywood boss: go to Paris to research and write a movie about the anti-Semitic French Colonel who rose to the defense of Alfred Dreyfus, the Jewish artillery officer falsely accused of treason and imprisoned despite proof of his innocence.
From Proust to Monét, Renoir to Debussy, some of the most famous characters and artists of late 19th century France are brought to vivid life as Sally immerses herself in a political scandal that divided a nation and challenged its very foundations. But history not only repeats itself, it becomes achingly personal when Sally returns and testifies before the House Un-American Activities Committee.
A story of the political made personal, of honor, betrayal and the sometimes gray area between the two, “Pausing For a Backward Glance” is a view of the past that lends focus to the present.
“Pausing For a Backward Glance” is available for sale online at Amazon.com, www.createspace.com/3496207, www.jacksalem.com, in e-book format and other channels.
While in England, and upon returning to France, I, Claude Monet, continued with my first and only passion, painting––its undisguised goal? Does it please the eye and stir the senses? I dreamed that my work would someday, of an unsuspecting viewer, elevate the soul, fortify the spirit, intoxicate the senses and paralyze the powers of the mind. I forgot who said that.
I continued sedulously with my painting––my métier, and though I didn’t consciously strive to achieve what the author spoke of, deep within me, I hoped it would do all of that.
Early on, during the 1870s, we Impressionists were a cohesive group, more or less, strengthened, as are all groups, by rejection and ostracism, and in our case, by the French Salon Juries. Within a decade, over-arching political and social issues, and attitudes towards the French Jewish population frayed our loose bonds. When the Dreyfus Affaire raised its monstrous head, the fault lines became sharply delineated. Degas, Renoir and Cezanne, trashed Zola’s letter and attacked him and his supporters. Renoir savagely fought with Berthe Morisot. Cezanne and Degas stopped speaking to their former friend Pissarro, friends for over a quarter of a century. Why from time to time they even painted alongside one another! Degas once was one of Pissarro’s biggest champions, but now, he disparaged his art. When reminded that he used to be one of Pissarro’s most ardent supporters, he was quoted as saying, “That was before the Dreyfus Affaire.”
Mary Cassatt, a vocal suffragette, knowing that it might mean a rupture with her friend Degas, came to the support of Zola. He stopped talking to her as well.
It was painful to see the triumph of politics over shared aesthetics. At the close of the nineteenth century, the ties that once bound us vanished, and the Impressionist movement collapsed. That wasn’t the only reason, of course. Degas, Renoir and Cezanne were anchored in tradition, whereas the rest of us were open to the new, the scientific, thus provoking derision.