We Are All French/Nous Sommes Tous Français

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We Are All French/Nous Sommes Tous Français

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1Limelite
nov. 14, 2015, 9:00pm

If you have time, say a little something in praise of peace, civilization, and your favorite French writers.

2Cecrow
nov. 17, 2015, 8:10am

Victor Hugo, for sure. Albert Camus. I'm looking forward to trying Zola and Balzac. Not a big Dumas fan.

In kids lit it's hard to forget about Madeline's appendix operation. I can't find an English copy of War of the Buttons anywhere. I did find Nobody's Boy, but I haven't read it yet.

French Canadian counts too! Mordecai Richler writes a lot about Quebec settings, although I think he counts as an English author. Hugh MacLennan's Two Solitudes is more to the point.

3.Monkey.
nov. 17, 2015, 8:15am

Aw I quite enjoy Dumas! There's also Verne, of course.

4bostonbibliophile
nov. 17, 2015, 9:18am

Marguerite Duras, Sebastien Japrisot, Patrick Modiano, Proust, Prevert, Eluard, Laclos, Cocteau

5Cecrow
nov. 17, 2015, 9:28am

I knew this would happen - somebody would mention someone I missed and I'd kick myself. Jules Verne is hit/miss with me, I loved him as a kid but can't read him as an adult. Marguerite Duras is virtually the opposite - nothing I want my kids reading, but great adult stuff.

Proust is sitting out there on my horizon in the five year range, somebody I'm slowly working towards.

6geneg
Editat: nov. 17, 2015, 10:05am

I read Flaubert's Madam Bovary and was distinctly disappointed. I thought Wharton's The Custom of the Country a thematically similar novel (spoiled young woman financially and socially destroys her relationships and those closest to her through unbridled avarice and ambition) was a much better read. I had heard so much about Bovary I was expecting to really enjoy it. Didn't.

7Cliff-Rhu-Rhubarb
nov. 17, 2015, 10:24am

The French? God's own chosen people, as far as I'm concerned. I can't get over there often enough.

As for French authors, I've particularly enjoyed:

Perec
Flaubert
Choderlos de Laclos - breathtakingly cynical
Sartre
Camus esp The Myth of Sisyphus
Andre Gide

Sadly, I can't get on with Cocteau.
As for Proust - my guiltily abandoned copy of Recherche sits on my shelf, roundly mocking me as a lightweight.

8Cecrow
Editat: nov. 17, 2015, 10:25am

>6 geneg:, How in .... did I forget Flaubert too? This topic must end now, it's killing me.

I haven't read the Wharton but it doesn't sound like the same story. Emma Bovary wasn't after ambition so much as idealistic romance, I thought. I more quickly compare it with Anna Karenina.

9Limelite
nov. 17, 2015, 9:24pm

Do you remember The Story of Babar series by Jean de Brunhoff? I loved those books!

Japrisot wrote one of my favorite novels, A Very Long Engagement. I always recommend it in the WWI category. Heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time, anti-war novel, masterfully constructed and utterly original.

Recently, I got hold of a very French satirical novel about the power of celebrities' possessions on the average person -- a commentary on the whole business of success. The book is The President's Hat, the author is Antoine Laurain. He's my new favorite French writer.

Between the terrorist suicide bombings (oddly, 'kamikaze' in French) in Paris and the press-overlooked ditto in Beirut, if you'd like to cite books by Lebanese writers or set in Lebanon, please do.

I should be embarrassed, but the only book I've read that's set in Lebanon (and that I remember) is the charming Arabesque, The Hakawati by Rabih Alameddin that I read about 5 years ago.

10ahef1963
nov. 18, 2015, 12:33am

I don't know a lot of French writers. I can't say that I like Sartre, though I've read him. Gide, the little I've read, is enjoyable. One of my plans for this year was to read Les Miserables, but so far I've not done so, so I've not yet read Hugo. That's it for me.

11.Monkey.
nov. 18, 2015, 9:30am

The Babar books are quite vividly racist. I checked one out from the library for the children I nannyed a while back because I knew them as a "classic" children's series, and was appalled, not to mention the kids were beyond bored with it. They got through maybe a third of the book before it was clear their attention was long lost, and it was never picked up again. I finished reading it myself, to see just what was going to happen with all these "savages" on the island, but, yeah, never again.

12UtopianPessimist
nov. 18, 2015, 10:53am

I hate to sound lowbrow - but what is, is. Colette - a favourite of many adolescent girls.

13Cecrow
Editat: nov. 18, 2015, 10:59am

>11 .Monkey.:, it's not French but thought I'd mention, you'll also want to watch out for the original edition of Mary Poppins. It was edited later by the author to fix the offensive parts.

>12 UtopianPessimist:, kick me again, I have Cheri waiting on my ereader for me to get to it. But telling me it's aimed at adolescent girls is not making me happy.

14LolaWalser
nov. 18, 2015, 11:14am

But telling me it's aimed at adolescent girls is not making me happy.

I wouldn't knock adolescent girls, but in any case, the notion Colette wrote for them is so comical it could star in its own three-ring circus.

15.Monkey.
nov. 18, 2015, 11:37am

>13 Cecrow: Oh really? Well now I'm curious!

16Limelite
nov. 18, 2015, 4:53pm

I could not agree that Chéri is directed to adolescent girls. I found it to be a sophisticated examination of the delusions of love, an ironic play about individuality being crushed by societal norms. It's a brittle little book written in a brittle style.

Read it fearlessly.

17bostonbibliophile
nov. 18, 2015, 8:04pm

9, A very long engagement is one of my all-time favorites, a luminous novel i wish was more widely read.

18mysterymax
nov. 22, 2015, 11:25pm

Georges Simenon... St. Exupery...

19Cecrow
des. 2, 2015, 9:35am

Here's an interesting poll I tripped across, conducted among France's reading public in 1999 with the question "What books have remained in your memory?" Note however that possible responses were limited to a preselected list of 200 titles.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_Monde%27s_100_Books_of_the_Century

20Limelite
des. 3, 2015, 1:42pm

>19 Cecrow:

I think the premise is most interesting -- "which books persisted in your memory."

The idea is so intriguing, it would be a great topic for LT. The endless wrangling would go on about books not on the menu of choice, I bet. far less attention or comment would be on choices made from the menu provided.

Wasn't it strange that Salman Rushdie came in last with Midnight's Children? For personal reasons, I would think more internationally well-known titles would persist in people's memories rather than more obscure, if native, works like Thérèse Desqueyroux, for instance.

As you say, the cutoff date -- end of 20th C -- tends to lend older readers more weight in the poll as their memories go further back in the century and authors who made strong impressions before 1950 may have lain in obscurity to readers under 40 in 1999.

21Cecrow
des. 4, 2015, 7:55am

Many popular national titles in the list not internationally known would probably appear on a similar list for any country polled individually. Very often novels can strike a chord with a local culture but have little/no impact outside of it. Japan immediately comes to mind, but even here in Canada: Novels by Stephen Leacock, Mordecai Richler, Margaret Laurence, W.O. Mitchell - these are well known names here who, although they haven't had the international impact of Margaret Atwood or Lucy Maud Montgomery, wouldn't necessarily rank lower in a Canada-only poll.

22geneg
des. 4, 2015, 10:30am

I don't see any mention of Julien Gracq. I read one of his pieces, a short novel/longish novellette, in the surrealistic style of post WWII, Chateau d'Argol. It was the kind of thing that lends itself well to re-reads.