« Sunday Night Journal, March 25, 2018 | Main | Sunday Night Journal, April 1, 2018 »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I like this poem, but I think Hugo's view of the child's innocence is a little on the naive side.

That is an amazingly good poem for translation, Robert. I wonder why there is a different translation for each part? I have only read Les Miserables by Hugo, but based on that book alone he must have been some sort of genius. How is the hunchback book? Thanks for this, a poem to savor.

"amazingly good poem for translation" Yeah, that's more or less my opinion.

I guess I'll have to read Les Miserables someday. Somehow not eager. Wonder if I'm prejudiced against French literature.

You really should read Les Miserables. It might conquer your prejudice.

I love that picture.


I'm not totally sure it's a prejudice. Or at least how much of one it is. I was thinking that I've never had any particular desire to read anything by Victor Hugo, and then I realized I've never had much desire to read any French novelists at all.

I liked Hunchback a great deal--but then again, I'm a literature lightweight compared to y'all.

Something about French writers -- is it gloominess? It took me at least three tries to get into Diary of a Country Priest by Georges Bernanos. Then I tried a few of Francois Mauriac’s novels, but just could not get through any of them.

Well, actually I like those. I think it's the 19th century ones that somehow seem unappealing to me, for no good reason at all.

And of course I like gloom.

I was trying to think of anything French that I had read besides Les Miserables. I didn't even think about the ones Marianne mentioned, which I love.


It's grace overcoming the gloomiest gloom that I love.


Yeah, me too. But failing that, I sometimes enjoy the gloom. Not the gloomiest gloom, though.

I am a big fan of Madame Bovary despite it's theme, gloominess, insanity, suicide, an amazingly well written novel.

That's one I feel like I really should read. I also have a strange yen to give Proust a try, I don't know why.

I haven't read it, but everyone should at least read Swann's Way, volume 1 of Proust. Janet has probably read the entire thing! :)

But if I only read volume 1 I'd feel really bad. So that becomes a reason not to start. :-)

I've read almost no 19th century French literature, but one thing I do like a lot is Alphonse Daudet's little collection of stories Letters From My Windmill. I think I first heard of it via a Ronald Blythe mention. I later tried one of Daudet's novels, and although I finished it, it was a bit of a struggle.

Never even heard of him, as far as I can remember.

I never even heard of Swann's Way.


It is volume 1 of In Search of Lost Time, or Remembrance of Things Past, Proust's enormous novel.

I'm just saying I obviously haven't read it.


"Never even heard of him, as far as I can remember."

Neither had I until Blythe mentioned him. He's apparently much better known in France than he is in the Anglophone world, mostly for the Letters... and for a comic novel called Tartarin of Tarascon, about a hapless Provencal rustic who decides to go on safari after seeing a lion at the circus. According to wikipedia the former has been filmed once (by Maurice Pagnol), the latter three times.

Watched the Pagnol film of 'Letters From My Windmill' over the weekend. The version I had was from a pretty bad print, which made some of the subtitles hard to read, but still, the movie is great fun. Interesting that the English version was adapted by Preston Sturges.


As the tales are set in 19th cent. rural France, the characters' Catholicism plays a major role, and two of the three stories deal with religious life specifically.

"The Three Low Masses" concerns a priest who is tempted by the Devil to gluttony on Christmas Eve.

"The Elixir of Father Gaucher" is about a monk who's a bit too fond of his monastery's "tonic," and his prior's humorous attempts to deal with the problem.

"The Secret of Master Cornille" concerns a small town miller's secret plan to keep the last operating windmill going in the wake of the opening of a nearby steam mill.

The first two episodes are definitely comic, while the last one is more serio-comic. All in all a very charming film, well worth a look esp. if you can find it in a good print. And as I said above, the book itself is greatly enjoyable.

I blush to admit how few serious films I've seen in the past year or more. Unless you count every episode of Twin Peaks. My wife and I have been on a steady diet of mysteries and sci-fi, mostly the former. But this does sound good.

One thing that's nice about it is that while the movie runs 2'15", each section clocks in at roughly 45 minutes and they're not connected, so you can watch it in parts.

"how few serious films"

Yeah, I'm still waiting for your verdict on the (somewhat) Lynchian Nocturnal Animals!

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)