Rediscover: Blue Angel

Author, essayist and book critic Francine Prose's Blue Angel (2000) is coming to select theaters on March 9. Submission, adapted and directed by Richard Levine, stars Stanley Tucci as creative writing professor Ted Swenson, whose deeply rooted cynicism is challenged by an unexpectedly gifted undergrad. It's been decades since Swenson last published a novel, and the dreary routine of reading poorly written student manuscripts and putting up with the smugness of his fellow professors has left him complacent. Angela Argo (played by Addison Timlin) seems like yet another undergrad with more enthusiasm than literary ability. But when she privately shares a draft of her novel, Swenson discovers the first potentially great writer he's ever taught. The fact that her work revolves around a romance between a teacher and student slips his mind, at first, until Swenson's obsession with his pupil turns disastrously inappropriate. His good intentions, if stupid actions, culminate in campus-wide humiliation, desertion by his family and colleagues, and a sexual harassment hearing of farcical proportions.

Francine Prose received the PEN Translation Prize in 1988 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1991, among other accolades for her voluminous body of work. Blue Angel was a finalist for the National Book Award. It was published in paperback in 2006 by Harper Perennial ($14.99, 9780060882037). --Tobias Mutter

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