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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Daring to write 'just anything'

Our life is a book that writes itself and whose principal themes sometimes escape us. We are like characters in a novel who do not always understand what the author wants of them.” – Julien Green

The first non-French national (he’s American) to be admitted to the famed Académie Française, Green was born on this date in 1900 to American parents living in France.  After spending time in America in his late teens, he returned to France and in 1922 –  after a false start as a painter – he began a nearly 80-year career as a writer.

By 1927 he had established himself in the world of French literature and probably would have remained there for the rest of his long life (he died in 1998) except for the outbreak of World War II, which once again drove him to the U.S.  There, during the war, he played a major role in the United States Office of War Information, becoming                
 the “French” voice for Voice of America, 
 was crucial in keeping up the French Resistance and ultimately leading to Germany’s defeat. 

He continued to write both at that time and after returning to France following the war.  While he wrote numerous essays on faith and religion, he is most noted for his 19-volume diary.  Spanning 80 years, the diary provided the world with a unique window on the artistic and literary scene in Paris.  The popularity of his diary was, he said, based on his free form and spontaneous writing style, folksy and highly readable.

“The secret is to write just anything, to dare to write just anything,” he said,  “because when you write just anything, you begin to say what is important.”

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