TOTW: A French Book Reading Resource

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Carmody
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Re: TOTW: A French Book Reading Resource

Postby Carmody » Sat Nov 14, 2020 1:11 am

Just for the record, I am not opposed to depressing books. I just like a little variety along the way.

I have read Thérèse Desqueyroux by Francois Mauriac. It starts out depressing and then goes down hill. I read it three times. Once while in university and then twice after that over a period of 30 yrs. So I can deal with the depressing literature, but variety is nice.
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Re: TOTW: A French Book Reading Resource

Postby kanewai » Sun Nov 15, 2020 5:59 am

Carmody wrote:What I would really like is to find a contemporary French writer who is not depressing but rather interesting and fun. I am not sure if there are any French authors like that out there but I would sure love to find them. Amélie Nothomb is a zany and totally different kind of author that I really like but I don't think there is anyone out there like her. Françoise Mallet-Joris, Francois Sagan, and M. Barbery were also good and interesting reads.


I can't think of anyone quite like Amélie Nothomb ... and when I looked over my reading French reading list there was a shocking lack of books that were modern, interesting, and fun - but I did find a few!

L'Écume des jours by Boris Vian is a hallucinogenic jazz-age romance. I liked it, even though it was like reading a dream, and I can't even remember much about it beyond the mood. I might have to read it again.

Jean de Florette / Manon des Sources by Marcel Pagnol are just beautiful. There's definitely tragedy (it's French, after all), but there's also a lot of humor and at the end the books really do feel uplifting.

I haven't read Zazie dans le metro by Raymond Queneau - I thought the movie tried a little bit too hard to be zany and wacky, and lost interest in the book. But it's still on my to-read list, and it might fit into what you're looking for.
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Re: TOTW: A French Book Reading Resource

Postby DaveAgain » Sun Nov 15, 2020 7:22 am

kanewai wrote:
I haven't read Zazie dans le metro by Raymond Queneau - I thought the movie tried a little bit too hard to be zany and wacky, and lost interest in the book. But it's still on my to-read list, and it might fit into what you're looking for.
I think that one was also an attempt to promote reformed spelling, so you might want to read a sample chapter before buying a copy.
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Re: TOTW: A French Book Reading Resource

Postby Carmody » Mon Nov 16, 2020 1:55 am

kanewai

Many thanks for you very thoughtful response:
L'Écume des jours by Boris Vian is a hallucinogenic jazz-age romance. I liked it, even though it was like reading a dream, and I can't even remember much about it beyond the mood. I might have to read it again.

Jean de Florette / Manon des Sources by Marcel Pagnol are just beautiful. There's definitely tragedy (it's French, after all), but there's also a lot of humor and at the end the books really do feel uplifting.

I haven't read Zazie dans le metro by Raymond Queneau - I thought the movie tried a little bit too hard to be zany and wacky, and lost interest in the book. But it's still on my to-read list, and it might fit into what you're looking for.


Yes I agree with you re Boris Vian and Marcel Pagnol. I have read J'irai cracher sur vos tombes by B. Vian. It was really different and I did like it.

And yes, Le Château de ma mère, Le Château de mon père, and Le Temps des secrets by Marcel Pagnol were definitely wonderful books to read. He is a joy to read.

But Raymond Queneau is new for me and I will look into Zazie. Actually, I followed up on it and found that:
Zazie explores colloquial language as opposed to "standard" written French; Queneau referred to the language spoken by Zazie and the other characters as "neo-French". It is marked by colloquial diction and slang, by phonetic spelling, and by "the morpho-syntax typical of spoken French".[1] For instance, the first word of the book, the neologism Doukipudonktan, is a phonetic transcription of D'où (est-ce) qu'il pue donc tant ? ("From where does he/do they stink so much?").


I regret to admit he is beyond my skill set at this point.

Thanks very much for taking the time.
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Re: TOTW: A French Book Reading Resource

Postby Carmody » Wed Nov 25, 2020 12:15 am

L’etrange defait by Marc Bloch

This book is unlike any book I have ever read. Since life is short and people don’t have a lot of time to read book reviews I have divided this book review into 2 sections:

1)the short and quick summary and
2)the in depth review of what he said were the causes for the defeat.

1)The short and quick summary is
I would rate this book a 10/10 for the author and how courageous he was as a man. I don’t believe I have given a 10/10 for any previous book. Learning a language foe me also requires learning about a country’s culture and if you want to learn about the French nation and its culture this is one heck of a resource. Learning about France is the reason I continue to study French.

The author was a historian, teacher, and founder of the Annales school of historiography.
He also fought in two World Wars.
He was also a member of the French La Résistance.
He was also captured by the Gestapo, tortured, lined up against a wall with 29 others and shot.

2)The in depth review.
This book was not easy for me to read for several reasons. For starters I am a B1-B2 reader and this is C2+ in terms of difficulty, so I struggled mightily. However I will list below the factors that led to L’etrange defait that I was able to glean from the book in hopes you may also find them of interest.

So many facts fascinated me from reading the book.

Note that in 10 May 1940 when the Germans invaded France, the French Third Republic of the time was already a very much socially divided country. It was a Republic and democratic, but it had many people of the aristocracy and bourgeoisie, and……………. this I did not know,………. many who were very drawn to a monarchal rule or an authoritarian regime. Historically the country had had Kings that ruled them for much of their history and many French were still drawn to a “strong man” or authoritarian regime of leadership rather than a Republic. In effect the aristocracy and bourgeoisie were a Fifth column (Fifth column-a group within a country at war are sympathetic to or working for its enemies.) The Vichy regime was the French government which succeeded the Third Republic from July 1940 to August 1944.

As an aside and this was not in the book, the official postwar French position is that Vichy was a German puppet state. Historians have since the 1970s rejected that position and argued, "Vichy had a political agenda of its own, which it pursued without the slightest pressure from Germany." I find that fact fascinating and had never heard it stated before.

In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if other democratic countries, even today, might have a presidential election and in that election a very large portion of the people might also vote for a more authoritarian regime. Maybe it is just human nature to do so?

With that as context I will list some of the reasons the author listed for the defeat:

• The Germans had a far, far larger number of stronger tanks, trucks and motorcycles than the French and were thereby able to push the war forward at a far faster pace than the French could even begin to think of. The speed with which they pushed the war put the fighting of it outside the reach of the French military to respond meaningfully.

• He refers frequently to la bourgeoisie francaise and the fact that their behavior was allied to fascism in collaborating with the Germans.

• The French military was led by intellectuals drawn from the elite schools versus the Germans who were not intellectuals but who just prosecuted the war to win at all costs. The elites at that time saw Nazism as a block to communism and its spread.

• P. 139 France at that time had a scorn for mechanization versus a preference for rural life

• P. 142- the French are very much a country that honors intelligence for its own sake-much as art for its own sake. We are not men of action.

• 158-He saw a fatalism in the French mindset and the practice of intellectual disciplines.

• 169-the aristocracy feared a loss of power and so colluded.

• 185- The teaching of philosophy and fatalism in the schools contributed to the defeat of France.

After reading the book, one comes away with the idea that France was truly defeated before it even started to fight the Germans.

This was one heck of a difficult book for me to read but worth the effort for the insights it provided.
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Re: TOTW: A French Book Reading Resource

Postby DaveAgain » Wed Nov 25, 2020 6:38 am

Carmody wrote:
With that as context I will list some of the reasons the author listed for the defeat:
I read Julian Jackson's The Fall of France a few years ago. As I recall the key factors he identified were:
    1. intelligence failure, the French were expecting the main attack to come from the north.
    2. communications failure, the French telephone network failed
    3. political failure. The French PM resigned (Reynaud?), the cabinet rallied round Petain, and the new French government did not want to fight, despite the fact that France still had considerable military resources available.


P. 139 France at that time had a scorn for mechanization versus a preference for rural life
1940 France was an industrialised nation, every bit as much as 1940 Germany was an industrialised nation.

I've read biographies of some French automotive pioneers that might interest you:
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Re: TOTW: A French Book Reading Resource

Postby Carmody » Wed Nov 25, 2020 1:30 pm

Many thanks for your comprehensive reply; most appreciated.

Am especially interested in your readings:
I've read biographies of some French automotive pioneers that might interest you:
Andre Citroen
Michelin (I'm reading this at the moment)
Peugeot
Louis Renault
Do you have a couple of favorites among them and why? Please advise and thanks.
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Re: TOTW: A French Book Reading Resource

Postby DaveAgain » Thu Nov 26, 2020 6:57 am

Carmody wrote:Many thanks for your comprehensive reply; most appreciated.

Am especially interested in your readings:
I've read biographies of some French automotive pioneers that might interest you:
Andre Citroen
Michelin (I'm reading this at the moment)
Peugeot
Louis Renault
Do you have a couple of favorites among them and why? Please advise and thanks.
The Peugeot book was a bit of a family saga, I liked that a mill grew to a modern giant.

I think Alias Caracalla is going to be my Christmas present to myself.
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Carmody
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Re: TOTW: A French Book Reading Resource

Postby Carmody » Thu Nov 26, 2020 1:12 pm

Thanks for the response.

I see on Amazon that the Alias Caracalla book is expensive:
Paperback
5 Used from $31.00
2 New from $35.00
I want to read it but need to find a cheaper copy.

Thanks again.
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Re: TOTW: A French Book Reading Resource

Postby Xeph » Fri Nov 27, 2020 2:54 pm

I'm looking for a book that would be aimed at A2-B1, I really like anything to do history, so any roman historique works for me.
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