Promise at Dawn (Paperback)
A classic of modern French literature, the thrilling real-life story of the military hero, ambassador, ladies man, writer, and loving son
"I grew up in the certitude that one day I should help give back the earth to those who ennoble it with their courage and warm it with their love."
Promise at Dawn begins as the story of a mother’s sacrifice: alone and poor, she fiercely battles to give her son the very best. Romain Gary chronicles his childhood in Russia, Poland, and on the French Riviera and recounts his adventurous life as a young man fighting for France in World War II. But above all he tells the story of the love for his mother that was his life—their secret and private planet, their wonderland “born out of a mother’s murmur into a child’s ear, a promise whispered at dawn of future triumphs and greatness, of justice and love.”
About the Author
Romain Gary (1914–1980) was born Roman Kacew in Vilnius to a family of Lithuanian Jews. He changed his name when he fled Nazi-occupied France to fight for the British as an RAF pilot. He wrote under several pen names and is the only writer to have received the Prix Goncourt twice. A diplomat and filmmaker, Gary was married to the American actress Jean Seberg. He died in Paris in 1980 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
[Tzvetan] Todorov praises the way Gary’s novels, unclouded by ideological intention and unflinching in the face of suffering, radiate colors at once “tragic” and “vibrant with joy and life.” Nowhere is Todorov’s praise truer than in Gary’s last novel, now appearing for the first time in English in the superb translation of Miranda Richmond Mouillot.
— Jewish Review of Books
An origin myth full of inventions and omissions, Gary framed his artistic emergence as an unusual love story about his long-suffering mother’s mad devotion to him.
— The New York Times
To figure out who Gary was and how he arrived at his intricate marriage of absurdist comedy and humane instruction, you have to turn to that memoir, “Promise at Dawn,” a matchlessly entertaining and psychologically persuasive book.
— Adam Gopnik - The New Yorker
A celebrated and infinitely seductive portrait of his early life, which is still often
described as an unprecedented innovation in the writing of autobiography in
— David Bellos
Perhaps the only memorial by a son that raises the rare literary pleasure of
laughter in the reader as a measure of appreciation.
— Janet Flanner - The New Yorker
What talent, most certainly, how many ideas and passions too. You seize us
and shake us. Ah!
— Charles de Gaulle