In This Review

Gaston Gallimard: A Half Century Of French Publishing
Gaston Gallimard: A Half Century Of French Publishing
By Pierre Assouline
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988, 448 pp

A French journalist reconstructs the life of France's foremost publisher, who for a time was also the owner of a fabled theater. Gallimard, son of a roué with a splendid art collection, sought to corner the market on great writers, French and foreign. A man of charm, wile and imperturbable presumption, he was also a man of ambiguity: he dodged service in the First World War and made prudent compromises in the Second. He continued to publish under the German Occupation-and yet after the war Camus and others testified that he had helped them as well. A breezy account, based in part on private sources, an instructive and entertaining social-literary history, a portrait of a successful and not very appealing figure.