Introduction, Part 4
“We must save Gisèle!”
Shortly after Freund took Joyce’s photographs in 1938, she and Joyce had to flee the approaching Nazi invasion of France. Joyce travelled to Zurich, Switzerland, where he would die in 1941 from complications following surgery (two months before Virginia Woolf took her own life).
André Malraux, always Freund’s champion, declared, “We must save Gisèle!” He arranged for her passage to South America, where Freund would support the war effort by running a publishing house for Charles de Gaulle called Ediciones Victoria.
After the war, Freund’s reputation continued to grow. She became the first photographer to be shown in the portrait gallery of the Bibliotèque Nationale of France in 1963. She had managed to capture the vibrant artistic spirit of France before the war, and as Europe rebuilt after its devastation, her photographs spoke to an energetic and nearly forgotten time; it also revealed the faces of some of those lost during the long conflict – including her good friend Walter Benjamin, who took his own life rather than be captured by the Gestapo.
This exhibit speaks to that vibrant time...
During the exhibition at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris, Freund was approached by French editors who wanted to publish her photographs of James Joyce and 1930s Paris. She and Verna B. Carleton--Freund's collaborator, friend, and translator--worked together for two years to write the story of Paris in the 1930s. The photos you see here today are those she collected for the book that would become James Joyce in Paris: His Final Years published in New York and London. You will also see examples of her notes, lectures, and letters that comprise the Gisèle Freund fonds (SC043) at the University of Victoria Libraries.