Charlotte Delbo: A Life Reclaimed translated by Kathryn Lachman

28th Summer Lecture Series

July 12, 2021

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

"The force and focus of Dunant's biography is its evocation of the lived experience of its subject. Given the extremity, indeed horror, of the central episode of that life, no one should, would, or could suggest that Dunant's biography allows its readers to share Delbo's point of view. What it does do, however, is bring us closer to that perspective, and make unmistakable its importance, not just for understanding (if such a thing is possible) one of the most unspeakable episodes of human history, but for responding to the political exigencies of our own times."—Jim Hicks, executive editor of the Massachusetts Review

In 1943, Charlotte Delbo and 229 other women were deported to a station with no name, which they later learned was Auschwitz. Arrested for resisting the Nazi occupation of Paris, Delbo was sent to the camps, enduring both Auschwitz and Ravensbrück for twenty-seven months. There, she, her fellow deportees, and millions of others were subjected to slave labor and nearly succumbed to typhus, dysentery, and hunger. She sustained herself by reciting Molière and resolved to someday write a book about herself and her fellow deportees, a stunning work called None of Us Will Return. After the camps, Delbo devoted her life to the art of writing and the duty of witnessing, fiercely advocating for the power of the arts to testify against despotism and tyranny.

Ghislaine Dunant’s unforgettable biography of Delbo, La vie retrouvée (2016), captivated French readers and was awarded the Prix Femina. Now translated into English for the first time, Charlotte Delbo: A Life Reclaimed depicts Delbo’s lifelong battles as a working-class woman, as a survivor, as a leftist who broke from the Communist Party, and most of all, as a writer whose words compelled others to see.

The Mount is a Massachusetts Cultural Council UP designated organization welcoming participants of all disabilities. Please contact The Mount at 413-551-5100 or by email,, to discuss accommodations needed to participate fully in this event.

Thanks to our sponsors:

  • Ticket sales begin on June 10.
  • The lectures are held in the Kitchen Garden Tent, an open-air venue.
  • We look forward to seeing you rain or shine!
Kathryn Lachman
Author's Academic Website

Kathryn Lachman is an Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, she holds a Ph.D. in French from Princeton University, M.A. and B.A. degrees from Yale University, and diplomas in violin performance, music history and chamber music from the Paris Conservatory. Her publications include Borrowed Forms: The Music and Ethics of Transnational Fiction (Liverpool University Press, 2014), Feasting on Words: Maryse Condé, Cannibalism and the Caribbean Text (Princeton Latin American Studies, 2006), translations of essays by Ghislaine Dunant and Assia Djebar, and numerous articles and book chapters on African and Francophone literatures. She co-chairs the Five College Faculty Seminar in French. She currently resides in Amherst, Massachusetts with her husband and three children.