Thursday, June 15, 2006

Le rouge et le noir

Acquired today, because I happened to be passing by a bookstore, and it was there. This edition chosen for its striking cover (yes, Picasso) and slightly atypical dimensions. It includes a brief biography, introductory notes, a historical timeline. The text itself is interspersed with articles concerning the major themes and suggested thesis topics. In French.

The section I quoted previously reads as follows:
Mais, cent pas plus haut, si celui-ci continue sa promenade, il aperçoit une maison d'assez belle apparence, et à travers une grille de fer attenante à la maison, des jardins magnifiques. Au-delà, c'est une ligne d'horizon formée par les collines de la Bourgogne; et qui semble faite à souhait pour le plaisir des yeux. Cette vue fait oublier au voyageur l'atmosphère empestée des petits intérêts d'argent dont il commence à être asphyxié.

What the hell have I gotten myself into?

Has anyone had any success in reading, for pleasure, in a language other than their native one?


Anonymous said...


Not even after majoring in French has it ever been *fun* to read in it...


Anonymous said...

Back in the day, I could read Spanish well enough that it was fun, and read a few books outside classes. "Como Agua Para Chocolate" was a revelation -- I had just come back from Mexico and was at the height of my Spanish powers, and that book... I could tell the Gringo had an accent. I could tell who was lower class. I felt like such a stud.

Greek was never fun.

It has to do with the proportion of words you have to look up. If you're turning to the dictionary more than 2-3 times per (medium length) paragraph, it's very tedious. Greek was always 2-3 times per sentence, but it wasn't just a vocabulary issue -- it was a syntax issue. Cases do not come naturally to me, for whatever reason. A Romance language won't give you that kind of grief.

Isabella K said...

Apart from texts for class, the only French I read for fun was Le petit prince, but that's kind of simple.

I have a pretty innate grasp of case, as Polish (technically my first language) has 7 (times 3 genders). I've read some books in Polish, but it's still more of an intellectual exercise (for "fun") than just grabbing something to read.

Then there's bedtime stories, which can be in any of 3 languages, but chosen by someone else. Relatively simple, but not always fun.

Must discuss this with J-F; it occurs to me he reads mostly in English...

Rebecca H. said...

No, I haven't read a book in another language for pleasure, although I did read some books in German for class. I wish I could read German for pleasure, though.

Anonymous said...

I've read in German successfully and it is an acquired 2nd language (secondary sch. through to the end of university).

I've been attempting to read in Irish, not yet fully acquired, and I wouldn't say it's a success in any way!

Anonymous said...

Wow! I just discovered you. Someone who reads GOOD books. Marry me! [just kidding]
Yes for Snow; agree for Beyond Black (even though I have a lot of admiration for Mantel's range and for most of her novels.

Can one read in a foreign language? Of course. Even with a pathetic knowledge of a language, one can read side-by-side editions and have a better idea of what the author is doing.

As you say, "it's so good, it must be so much better in French." And Stendhal is more translatable than many others.

Anonymous said...

Irish! I forgot about Irish! I couldn't read that for fun either, although it was more fun than Greek. But my husband could sight-read Old Irish as a party trick (the party was at a used bookstore specializing in scholarly texts).

Anonymous said...

Well English is my second language and now it's all I ever read in. My dream is to be able to read a novel in German one of these days.

Anonymous said...

Wow--I am so impressed. I took French in high school and college, but we only ever read those thin little books. I can't even read headlines anymore! I might be able to struggle through an easy Spanish book, but I am too lazy to try. Have fun reading Stendahl in the original language it was published in!