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This report is taken from PN Review 73, Volume 16 Number 5, May - June 1990.

A Few Facts about E. Bove David Arkell
There was always mystery surrounding Emmanuel Bove (1898-1945) but it was generally understood that he wrote the way he did because of the ambivalence of his early years. During the past decade a new mystery has developed: how came the extraordinary revival in his literary fortunes, culminating in this country with the English versions (from Carcanet and Paladin) of his major works Mes Amis and Armand and now Un homme qui savait?

According to the textbooks he was 'born Paris of a Russian father and English mother...' but already the errors accumulate and it is safer to turn to a more enlightened source: the New Yorker piece of 20 May 1985 by Jane Kramer, that magazine's roving European correspondent and an acclaimed historian of our times.

Bove, then, was born Emmanuel Bobovnikoff, at 123 boulevard de Port-Royal, Paris, on 20 April 1898, the son of a Russian immigrant likewise called Emmanuel Bobovnikoff. His mother was a housemaid from Luxembourg who, four years later, gave birth to a second boy, Léon. But in 1906 Bove's father married Emily Overweg, an English painter and daughter of the British consul at Shanghai. From that date Bove himself lived mainly with the new ménage, while his brother Léon stayed with the boys' natural mother, the Luxembourg housemaid. To complicate matters further Emily Overweg in 1907 gave birth to a Bobovnikoff of her own named Victor.

Jane Kramer found both Léon and Victor alive in the Paris region: Victor, a ...


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