On Monday, November 9, New Yorkers will get the chance to hear Bill Irwin, Tony Award-winning actor for Whos Afraid of Virginia Woolf and MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant awardee, present a dramatic reading of a selection of Alexis de Tocquevilles Letters from America at a gala benefit for New York Universitys Maison Française, a major New York forum for French-American intellectual and cultural exchange.
Most of the letters have never been published in English, but next year Yale University Press will bring out Letters from America, translated by Frederick Brown; and a selection will appear in the autumn 2009 issue of The Hudson Review.
French-American intellectual and cultural exchange had a very early boost when the young Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville made his 1831-32 trip to America, writing back to family and friends. Informal and anecdotal, often very witty, and full of detailed observations of the American character and habits, the letters eventually led to the authors brilliantly insightful Democracy in America.
To take place at the Hotel Carlyle (Madison Avenue at 76th Street), the gala honors Yves-André Istel, of Rothschild, Inc., for his contributions to Franco-American relations and for the significant roles he has played at NYU, as chairman of the Remarque Institute and the Center for French Civilization and Culture and as an Overseer of the Faculty of Arts and Science. He is also a co-chair of the European Institutes board of directors, and a director of several major companies and non-profit organizations.
The November 9 celebration begins with a Champagne reception at 6:30 p.m., followed at 7:30 p.m. by the theatrical presentation and dinner. Tickets are: Prime Gala Benefactor Table of 10, $10,000; Benefactor Table of 10, $7,500; and individual tickets, $750. and $1,000. To make a reservation and for further information, call Francine Goldenhar at 212.998.8751; firstname.lastname@example.org
Honorary patrons of this event include His Excellency Pierre Vimont, Ambassador of France to the U.S.; Philippe Lalliot, Consul General of France in New York; Kareen Rispal, Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy; and NYU President John Sexton.