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John Fante's Ask the DustA Joining of Voices and Views$
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Stephen Cooper and Clorinda Donato

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780823287864

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823287864.001.0001

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Don’t Ask the French

Don’t Ask the French

(p.157) Don’t Ask the French
John Fante's Ask the Dust

Philippe Garnier

Fordham University Press

This is a personal account by someone who witnessed firsthand, and himself had a hand in, John Fante's extraordinary popularity in France in the late 1980s. Before being rediscovered by Charles Bukowski and Black Sparrow Press, Fante’s neglect in his own country for over forty years had a lot to do with French enthusiasm for his work. Identification with Fante's alter ego Bandini was instrumental as well, but a rather similar character (a struggling and starving young artist) in another, earlier, novel which had an undeniable influence on Ask the Dust—Knut Hamsun's Hunger—never stirred as big an emotional response with the French, possibly because Hamsun was extremely well-known not only in his own country but also everywhere else in Europe. The French never like success, but instead love to embrace artists they perceive, rightly or wrongly, as maudits—doomed to oblivion at home.

Keywords:   artiste maudit, Ask the Dust, Bukowski, Fante, France, Knut Hamsun, Hunger

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