TOTW: A French Book Reading Resource

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MorkTheFiddle
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Re: A French Book Reading Resource

Postby MorkTheFiddle » Sun Feb 17, 2019 7:25 pm

These were read over a number of decades, though most of them during the last 5-10 years.

* means recommended, † means listened to, Ø means recommend listening rather than reading.

La Condition humaine André Malraux*
This was the first novel in French that I ever read. It held me spellbound. I read it again rather recently, but the spell was broken.

Je voudrai que quelqu’un m’attend quelque-part Anna Gavalda *†
Audiobook read by the author and well done. *
This was the first book I read after reading French again more frequently. I read and heard many of the stories several times trying to improve my listening comprehension. Baseball announcer Ken Harrelson, who recently retired from doing Chicago White Sox games, once said of Alex Rodriguez (who never played for the White Sox) that he, Harrelson, was not going to say Rodriguez was the best shortstop ever, but he himself had never seen anyone better. That’s how I feel about Gavalda as a short-story writer. Maupassant, Alice Munro, Anton Chekhov, none of them is better than Gavalda. Harrelson was right about Rodriguez, too.

Ensemble c'est tout Anna Gavalda †
The audio book decently read by several actors. But the book is a major, major disappointment. The sharp observations and well made stories disappear into a mishmash of sorry, unappealing misfits. The only thing worse is the English translation of the title, Hunters and Gatherers.

Bonjour, Tristesse Françoise Sagan *†
Audiobook read by Jacqueline Pagnol *
This too I read and listened to several times to improve my listening comprehension.

Le Grand Mealnes *†
Audiobook read by Pomme *
I watched the movie version, too, which is just okay.
This reminded me of Parzifal, the medieval German romance written by the poet Wolfram von Eschenbach (which I read in translation), because Mealnes is a young man of sometimes almost superhuman powers with a very romantic outlook on life, and Alain-Fournier makes it all work.

Camus
L'Étranger †*
I like this classic, but I don’t know why.
La Peste
A lesson about bureaucracy maybe no one needs to read.

L'été meurtrier Sebastien Japrisot (Jean-Baptiste Rossi) *
There is a really bad movie version of this.
Un long dimanche de fiançailles Sebastien Japrisot (Jean-Baptiste Rossi) *†
The movie version is just okay, even though Audrey Tautou and Jodie Foster (speaking French) play parts in it. Both these two books I call jigsaw-puzzle books. You have to spend some time figuring out who is who and what is what, and they are fun if you enjoy that sort of thing (I do).
La Dame dans l'auto avec des lunettes et un fusil Sebastien Japrisot (Jean-Baptiste Rossi)

Maigret detective novels. Georges Simenon *
I read all of them, I think, and I watched the TV versions starring Bruno Cremer as Maigret, too. *

Lettres, ed Bernard Raffalli (a selection of 165 out of hundreds of letters) Madame de Sévigné *
Eugénie Grandet Balzac
I read this in conjunction with a book club reading of Crime and Punishment, but I don't remember why. Maybe because Dostoevsky once translatged it into Russian? Although I appreciate the breadth of Balzac's work and vison, his novels leave me cold)

Several but not all plays of Corneille, from the17th century.
Read for a graduate course. Too long ago to remember which plays we read, though we read most of them. They were interesting, but I can’t recommend them to a modern audience.

Le roi de fer Maurice Druon *
One of a series of historical novels in the series Les Rois Maudits. I have the others in the series, but never got around to reading them. The guy who wrote that TV thing about Thrones said he got his idea for it from Les Rois Maudits, so now they’ve become a fad, I hear. I read Le roi de fer a generation ago and loved it. Read it again more recently and still like it, though it's showing its age.

Pilote de Guerre Antoine de Saint-Exupéry *
Courrier Sud

Diary of a Chambermaid Octave Mirbeau *†
An excellent novel that can be unpleasant reading at times.
The audiobook was from litteratureaudio.com, read by Victoria. *

Sept nouvelles Maupassant *
L’Ami Patience, Le saut du berger, Pierrot, Le legs, Une vendetta, Une famille, La folle
I read the stories online; the CD read by Robin Renucci *

Ágota Kristóf
Le Grand Cahier *†
La preuve
Le troisième mensonge

This trilogy is based loosely, it is said, on the Hungarian uprising in 1956, but it is not your average story about war or uprisings.

Marcel Proust makes for rather dull reading, IMHO, but quite pleasant listening.
Du côté de chez Swann †Ø
À l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs †Ø
Le Côté de Guermantes †Ø
La Prisonnière †Ø
Albertine disparue †Ø
I still have several hundred pages in two more volumes to go, which I hope to finish one of these days. The excellent audiobooks come from litteratureaudio.com (Monique Vincens and Pomme) and librivox.org (Bernard, À l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs)

On Reading French Verse: a study of poetic form Roy Lewis *
I found this essential for learning to appreciate French poetry. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1982.

Pour étudier un poème Françoise Nayrolles *
Collection profil, Pratique série, Examens, Hatier, Paris, 1996. A helpful précis of Lewis.

I sputtered out on Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, La bête humaine and Germinal by Emile Zola, and Madame Bovary by Gustav Flaubert (I know).
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Re: A French Book Reading Resource

Postby Carmody » Sun Feb 17, 2019 8:02 pm

Mork the Fiddle

Many thanks for taking all that time to write so comprehensively about your French reading; most appreciated. I have lots of questions but to start off with you mentioned listening to the books and I am curious what your source for listening was. Audiobook and litteratureaudio?

Thanks again; more later.
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Re: A French Book Reading Resource

Postby MorkTheFiddle » Tue Feb 19, 2019 12:43 am

Carmody wrote:Mork the Fiddle
I have lots of questions but to start off with you mentioned listening to the books and I am curious what your source for listening was. Audiobook and litteratureaudio?

My audio sources are

litteratureaudio.com
librivox.org
Audible
Audiobooks on CD

As I know you know, the first two are free, so naturally I prefer them. Litteratureaudio has more offerings for French, I think. The only drawback to either of these is that the voices are not always "professional." Listening to an audiobook means listening for hours and hours, so the voice has to be something my ears can sustain. Sometimes "professional" does not matter. The voices of Monique Vincens and of Barnard are not "professional" voices, but both are especially pleasant to listen to anyway.
When the voice from either of those two sources doesn't appeal to me, or if there is no audio for what I want to hear, then I look for an audiobook.
litteratureaudio.com and librivox.org provide sample audio, and almost always the audiobook vendors do, too.
Audible sells audiobooks and provides samples, as well, but it uses a subscription service and requires the listener to use "authorized" players, which limit the user's control over where and how you can listen. I also don't like the subscription service because I always, always, forget I have it and end up spending money that goes to waste. I mean, it's not like I lose it or anything, of course.
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Re: A French Book Reading Resource

Postby Carmody » Tue Feb 19, 2019 2:03 am

Mork

Thank you very much for your guidance.

I in turn would like to suggest two very helpful resources that I got this past Christmas:

Children of Paradise (English Subtitled)
https://www.amazon.com/Children-Paradis ... f+paradise
This is a remastered print of excellent HD quality.

Directed by Marcel Carné. The screenwriter was Jacques Prévert.

The back story behind the production, which is included on it, is for me quite breathtaking re the Resistance and War time France.

Also

Les visiteurs du soir
Directed by Marcel Carné
https://www.amazon.com/visiteurs-soir-C ... rs+du+soir
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Re: A French Book Reading Resource

Postby MorkTheFiddle » Wed Feb 20, 2019 12:59 am

Carmody wrote:Mork

I in turn would like to suggest two very helpful resources that I got this past Christmas:

Children of Paradise (English Subtitled). Also Les visiteurs du soir


The most reliable and the cheapest source of French materials I forgot to mention: my local library. Which lent me Children of Paradise as well as Bande à part, Jeux interdits, Jules et Jim, Belle du jour and probably others that I can't remember. All using English subtitles, of course. My own personal favorite of those is Jeux interdits (Forbidden Games), and Bande à part contains one of my favorite of all scenes from the movies, while somehow managing to avoid sex, drugs, and murder (the scene, not necessarily the whole movie) :) . And just a second ago I reserved Les visiteurs du soir from the library. Thank you for that recommendation. ;)
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Re: A French Book Reading Resource

Postby Carmody » Wed Feb 20, 2019 2:46 am

I congratulate you on having a magnificent library system. We here in Westchester County NY are not so well endowed; however I find that we do have Bande à part ,Jeux interdits, and Jules et Jim

And now a very embarressing question.......you said:
Bonjour, Tristesse Françoise Sagan *†
Audiobook read by Jacqueline Pagnol *
This too I read and listened to several times to improve my listening comprehension.

However I go to https://www.audiobooks.com/browse and when I search I come up with nothing. What am I doing wrong?

You have gotten me very interested in Audio and all I want to do is find a place where I can buy them.

I went to the Librovox for French books but did not find much.
Collection de audiolivres gratuits de LibriVox en français
https://archive.org/details/fav-migrenier?sort=-downloads


I am feeling very clumsy. :oops:

Also, I am leery of subscription services...

Please advise at your convenience and thanks.
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Re: A French Book Reading Resource

Postby MorkTheFiddle » Wed Feb 20, 2019 6:11 pm

Ah, I bought Pagnol's reading of Bonjour, Tristesse, probably from the usual suspect. It's a 3 CD set.
Sorry if I misled you.
When I have more time, I'll come back later to list my purchases of readings.
Oh, and note that Catherine DeNeuve also made a recording of BT, but not the full novel I don't think. You should always look for the word integral, otherwise you could be getting selections.
Pagnol was also a French actress, perhaps not so famous in America as Deneuve.
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Re: A French Book Reading Resource

Postby Carmody » Wed Feb 20, 2019 11:55 pm

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Re: A French Book Reading Resource

Postby MorkTheFiddle » Thu Feb 21, 2019 12:40 am

Yes, that's the right one. Here are more sources and what-not as promised.

An * indicates a book I have not finished.

Purchased CDs:

* Balzac, Honoré de. Le Père Goriot. Lu par Michel Vuillermoz. Paris: Éditions Thélème. ISBN 978 287 862 860 9. 6 h 20 min.
Camus, Albert. La peste. 2 CD. Lu par Christian Gonon. Texte integral. Gallimard (Écoutez lire), 2010. ISBN 978 207 017 738. 9 h 30 min
Duras, Marguerite. L'Amant du Chine du Nord. Lu par Ariane Ascaride. Texte integral. Gallimard (Écoutez lire), 2014. ISBN 9782070144105. Env. 7 h.
Galvalda, Anna. Je voudrais que quelqu'un m'attende quelque part. ©1999 Le Dilettante (P)2006 Éditions Gallimard. ISBN unknown? I lost my original, but the url = https://www.amazon.fr/voudrais-quelquun-mattende-quelque-part/dp/B01CUWSJ5S/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1550698981&sr=1-1. Version coupée means it contains only some of the twelve stories in the book; in this case, nine: I. I. G., Cet homme et cette femme, Ambre, Permission, Le fait du jour, Catgut, Junior, Pendant des années et Clic-clac.
Sagan, Françoise. Bonjour Tristesse. Juliard 1955. Texte integral. Lu par Jacqueline Pagnol 1955. Coffret © 2004. ISBN 2-84468-047-X

Audiobooks from Audible. Note that I have not finished any of them, but I have heard at least a bit just to be sure of the recording and the voice.

* Dostoievski, Fédor. Les frères Karamazov. Lu par Vincent Violette. 33 h 32 min.
* Druon, Maurice. La Reine étranglée (Les Rois maudits 2). Lu par François Berland. 6 h 27 min.
* Flaubert, Gustav. Madame Bovary. Lu par Alain Lawrence. 14 h 14 min
* Hugo, Victor. Les contemplations. Lu par Michaël Lonsdale, Denis Podalydès. 10 h 23 min
* Hugo, Victor. Notre-Dame de Paris. Lu par Mathurin Voltz. 20 h 35 min. Also available at Librivox.
* Murakami, Haruki. L’incolore Tsukuru Tazaki et ses années de pèlerinage. Lu par
* Musso, Guillaume. Central Park. Lu par Alain Lawrence. 2015. 7 h 50 min.
* Proust, Marcel. Le temps retrouvé (À la recherche du temps perdu 6) . Lu par Daniel Mesguich. 6 h 9 min.
* Zola, Emile. La bête humaine. Lu par ?. 12 h 20 min.

Finally, free audiobooks that I have not listened to:
Hugo, Victor. Notre-Dame de Paris. Available at Librivox.
Zola, Emile. A number of novels are available at litteratureaudio, including Germinal and Nana, but I have not listened to any of them.

My goal is to listen without reading along, but I'm not there yet. Hope this helps.
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Re: A French Book Reading Resource

Postby Carmody » Thu Feb 21, 2019 12:49 am

Dans le jardin de l’ogre by Leïla Slimani

Slimani is a recent Prix Goncourt winner and appears on many tv shows in France right now. Since she is so high profile maybe a couple of words are in order re her earlier book Dans le jardin de l’ogre.

All artists and authors borrow from others and Slimani certainly does her fair share of borrowing in the writing of this book. From the beginning and throughout the similarities between the main character of Adèle and Thérèse Desqueyroux of Francois Mauriac are striking. The alienation, the ennui, the malaise, the desire for freedom, being footloose and fancy free with nowhere to go, et al.

The fact is that the book never goes anywhere other than Adèle just finding sex with different people in different situations. I mean I am totally for sex in literature but it has to be done well. Slimani never seems to execute on the quality of her sex scenes. They are all just perfunctory trysts, one after another, which is part of the point.

But Adèle never seems to get to a point of resolving her inner anguish. She starts in anguish and ends in anguish.
If Slimani wants us to feel that the journey has been a worthwhile one we need to find some insights or beauty or something along the way. I am on my second read through this book and I am not finding much. If I do I will definitely revise my comments here.

It is my understanding of the French people and their zeitgeist that they find a certain degree of anomie, alienation or malaise to be respectable and a sign of depth of thought and character. At least that is what they tell me. Michel Houellebecq also a Prix Goncourt winner probably exemplifies these attributes most clearly in today’s French literature.

If people wish to review their French readings,old or new, in this thread or comment on my review by all means do so. I love my French literature and feel responsible to say when I think a book is good or bad. And since the French are absolutely dedicated to debating all things I feel my comments very much uphold the French standard of the need to disagree.
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