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New Classics: André Aciman and Stacey D'Erasmo on Olivia by Dorothy Strachey

July 9, 2020 via Crowdcast

Critically acclaimed author André Aciman credits Dorothy Strachey’s Olivia, reissued by Penguin Classics this June with an introduction by Aciman himself, as inspiration for his Call Me By Your Name. He was joined in conversation by writer Stacy D’Erasmo (Wonderland, The Art of Intimacy) to discuss the novel’s impact.

Olivia, first published in 1949 and loosely based on the author’s life, is a groundbreaking, passionate, and subtle story of first love. It tells the story of Olivia, a sixteen-year-old girl who is sent from England to a Parisian finishing school to broaden her education. Soon after her arrival, she finds herself falling under the spell of her beautiful and charismatic teacher, Mademoiselle Julie, who introduces her to art, literature, and fine cuisine. But Mademoiselle Julie’s life is not as straightforward as Olivia imagines. As they grow closer, their relationship is threatened by jealousy and rivalry, and the school year seems destined to end in tragedy.