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LIVE from the NYPL: ON VULGARITY: Adam Gopnik and Pascal Bruckner


September 22, 2005

In the indictment brought against modernity, "the French philosopher and novelist Pascal Bruckner writes," the presence of vulgarity has cropped up time and again, having spread together with social mobility and the ideas of egalitarianism -- a sign of the times when hierarchies are supposedly abolished and everyone is given equal opportunities, including culturally."

Bruckner will talk about vulgarity as a strategy of social advancement, and, paradoxically, as a potential strategy of aesthetic achievement, emphasizing the power of the repressed and the previously excluded. He will be in conversation with writer and New Yorker magazine contributor Adam Gopnik in a debate about the meaning and value of a term that has become, well, vulgar, even to mention. The debate promises to sweep on to larger issues of American and French cultural exchange.

About Adam Gopnik:

Adam Gopnik, New Yorker staff writer and author of Paris To The Moon, lived in Paris with his family from 1995 to 2000 and wrote the magazine's "Paris Journals," prompting the French newspaper Le Monde to regard him as a "witty and Voltairean commentator on French life." He is co-author of the book High and Low: Modern Art and Popular Culture and his awards include the National Magazine Award for Essay and Criticism and the George Polk Award for Magazine Reporting. The King in the Window, a children?s book, will be published this Fall.

About Pascal Bruckner:

Pascal Bruckner is an acclaimed essayist and novelist, whose Bitter Moon was made into a film by Roman Polanski. His other works include The Temptation of Innocence: Living in the Age of Entitlement, Lunes de fiel, Parias, and The Tears of the White Man: Compassion As Contempt. He was awarded the prestigious Acad?mie Fran?aise Prix 2000 and Medici Prize 1995 for Essays.