France: The Sparrow & the Dilettante

"The ship is sinking," Jean Cocteau mourned last week when he was told of Edith Piaf's death. It was a typically melodramatic lament for the waning of a French world that began with cubism and ended, more or less, with existentialism. Several hours later, Cocteau himself died of a heart attack at the age of 74. In one day France had lost both an esthetic arbiter of its intellect and a guardian—or at least a mascot —of its heart.

Singing to Live. Hollow-cheeked and not quite five feet tall, Edith Piaf looked the...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!