Category Archives: France

France

This is my bookcase of French related books that I’m working on. I posted a similar picture of the books on China last year. It was one of a number of posts to my “China” category. I have begun a similar category on France which this post is now a part of.

My (now) seven loyal readers will recall that it was my Grandfather’s exploits in France that was the primary driver for this trip. I have in fact polished off a couple books on that subject in the past seven or eight months. But that reading has led to a more intense interest in the nation which gave us our liberty and for which we have twice returned the favor.

I just finished reading Ina Caro’s book “The Road from the Past” to Claudia. (NOTE the preceding link is to a very unflattering WaPo review of the book which was, the book that is, just what I hoped it would be). Shortly afterward we decided to watch the movie Julie and Julia which was a charming little movie about a writer who set out to and succeeded in cooking all 524 recipies in Julia’s Childs first book on French Cooking in one year’s time.

I’ll be posting more about France as I go along. I’ve already made some discoveries I hadn’t expected. For instance I have always thought of English as a Germanic language. But Britain and France’s long entanglement left about one third of our vocabulary coming from the frogs. I must admit that has made it much easier for me to pick up their lingo as I chip away at it every day.

I’m currently on a 54 days in a row tear studying it. I started five months ago and have about four more months to go by which time I hope too have added a few brain cells upstairs. In fact, I think I’ll add a few more right now. Maybe I’ll edit this later or peut être pas.

A Rose by any other name

For a couple of days I’ve gotten two comedian’s confused. But first let me interject a completely unnecessary digression about female comedians (since I’ve been studying French for the past several months) The two entertainers I’ve confused are both women. In french, and also English, they could be called “comédiennes.” My wife would object to this female designation and she got me to drop “mailman” for “letter carriers” years ago. French, however is riddled with gender. Nouns are all either male or female and I have yet to discern a memorable pattern that would allow me to know whether a cow or a horse is one or the other. I’m not alone.

In The Greater Journey David McCullough relates the story of a rich American expat during the German seige of Paris. He was doubly beseiged when a mob of radical Parisians stormed his house and demanded that he give them his horse and cow so that they could postpone eating rats a little longer. When the old gentleman came out to confront them all he had at his command was the impoverished French he had avoided learning for his decade or more, of residence in the City of Light. He told them he would let them have his cow “le vache” but not his horse “le cheval.” He did so with great dignity and this made his use of “le” before the “vache” so comical to them that they broke out in good-hearted laughter. That was because his “le” indicated a cow was a male and everyone knew cow was a female word.
The mob let him keep his horse.

“Rose” is also a “female” word in French. A speaker is required to precede it with a “la” rather than a “le.” It is French for the adjective pink. As in English it is also a girl’s name and my confusion had to do with two comedians – Roseanne Barr and Rosie O’Donnell.

In recent days I’ve heard Donald Trump praise Roseanne Barr for bring back her old television series “Roseanne” from the dead. She also brought her TV hubby, actor John Goodman, from the dead. His character suffered an apparently fatal heart attack so that he could go on to a more exalted career in Disney voiceovers. I was confused because I’d thought that Roseanne had been having a very public feud with Trump some years earlier and that Trump had even berated her during one of his debates with Hillary Clinton.

Nope. That was Rosie O’Donnell. Trump had been calling her ugly since she joined “The View” a collection of women who talked about politics on Network television. O’Donnell like Barr both had strong opinions and raise hackles. In the end O’Donnell’s outspokenness got her pushed off The View. But I had another memory to recover about one of the Roses, Roseanne Barr it turned out, that I wanted to review. By chance it was about “recovered memory.”

The Rose that supports Donald Trump once hopped on the then faddish “recovered memory” movement. During the fad a great many women began recalling what they argued were long suppressed memories of their having been sexually abused as children. I have no doubt that suppression like this happens. My two years teaching at Proctor were so humiliating for me that I tried not to think about them for years afterward. Even now they are particularly hazy for me much to my regret. But in my case I never forgot them completely.

When Roseanne Barr told her audience that her father had sexually abused her she got a lot of pushback from her family saying it just wasn’t so. In time Roseanne Barr walked back the allegations. The following comes from Barr’s Wikipedia Page:

On February 14, 2011, Barr and Geraldine appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show where Barr admitted that the word “incest” could have been the wrong word to use and should have waited until her therapy was over before revealing the “darkest time” in her life.[105] She told Oprah Winfrey, “I was in a very unhappy relationship and I was prescribed numerous psychiatric drugs… to deal with the fact that I had some mental illness… I totally lost touch with reality… (and) I didn’t know what the truth was… I just wanted to drop a bomb on my family”.[105] She added that not everything was “made up”, saying, “Nobody accuses their parents of abusing them without justification”.[105] Geraldine said they did not speak for 12 years, but had recently reconciled.[105]

Barr, like so many other celebrities is a creature of the modern age in need of attention to maintain her career. Much as claiming to have been sexually abused her current “blue collar” support of Donald Trump is a smart move to revive her career. Take that Hollywood! Having given this some though I’m reminded of the adage, “A Rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” I’d add that the question of fragrance might depend on the definition of “sweet.” Which reminds me of a french term I learned yesterday. I read it in the travel book, Five Nights in Paris, that I began reading to Claudia. “l’odeur.”

As for Trump’s nemisis Rosie O, She got in dutch with the networks for saying the same thing that Donald Trump would say twenty years later and that would help get him elected President. I’ve clipped a couple paragraphs from O’Donnell’s Wikipedia page if you like irony as much as I do.

Continue reading