strange fire

books. poetry. paganism. feminism. queerness. blog.

L’Aventure d’une jeune fille livresque/The Adventures of a Bookish Young Woman June 16, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 4:41 am

(Translated from the French because I wrote it for class; in the style of Perrault)

Once upon a time, there was a young woman who loved to read novels and fairy tales. She searched everywhere for good stories from every country and every culture: England, Germany, Japan, and of course, France. She loved les contes by the French writers of the 17th century: La Belle au bois dormant, La chat blanche, L’Aventure de Finette, Cendrillon,etc. She wanted to read them in their original language, and so, she worked very hard and studied for a long time. Finally, she traveled to France, and she settled in a small town. One day, she decided to look for a French edition of les contes des fees. But, unfortunately, she had some trouble. It was very hot that day, and the sun beat down on our heroine, who was not dressed for the weather. First she tried an antique bookstore. She saw many beautiful old books. She looked and looked, but she couldn’t find any contes des fees. So, she asked the proprietor:

“Do you have a copy of the 17th century contes des fees?”

He looked at her blankly.

Les contes de Charles Perrault? Or Madame d’Aulnoy, maybe?”

“Er, I don’t know,” he replied. “You could look, if you want.”

That’s strange, thought our heroine. A shop owner who doesn’t know his own merchandise!

But, at each bookstore she went to, it was the same story. When she asked, “Do you have the works of Charles Perrault or Madame d’Aulnoy?” they always replied, “No,” or “I don’t know,” or “Maybe.” She kept searching, but it was difficult because French bookstores are badly organized. Finally, she found a copy, but she learned that one needs luck and determination in a French bookstore!

FIN (The End)

And when I say French bookstores are badly organized, I’m not kidding. They just kind of pile them willy-nilly, where ever they have room. I’ve decided that French bookstores exist in an Alice in Wonderland universe. Like in Through the Looking Glass when Alice has to walk away from the house to get to the house, in a French bookstore you’ll only find what you’re looking for if you’re not looking for it. If you actively search, it turns into the Sheep Shop, moving up to the next shelf until it disappears through the ceiling.


The Killer Baguette of DOOOOOOOOOOOMMMM!!!! June 11, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 12:31 am

I saw Harry Potter et le prisonnier d’Azkaban last night–dubbed in French. I enjoyed myself immensely, but I have to say Snape (they call him Professeur Rogue here!) simply does not work without the voice of Alan Rickman; without That Voice, you’re just a guy in a bad wig. But I love the new director, the Spanish guy what’s-his-name. His cinematography gives a real sense of space, shooting through and around things all the time. The Dementors were perfect. And Neville lost all his babyfat! Awwww! (‘scuse me while I try and restrain the latent maternal instinct that my beloved Neville always inspires). Lupin was perfect too, as was Sirius Black. And they sang the “Double, double, toil and trouble” bit in French! Didn’t understand any of it, but it was still cool. But I missed having the trio in their robes! And I was starting to devise a pretty fun drinking game towards the end there: a shot for every time a scene fades in from black with Harry in a dead faint and Hermione asking him if he’s okay (” ‘air-ee? Ca va?”). Did he faint that much in the book? Because I think he spent half the movie unconcious.

Anyway, the fact that it was dubbed means I spent most of the movie giggling madly at inappropriate moments. The French word for wand is baguette, I kid you not, and I’m in the midst of a torrid love affair with French bread right now, so every time someone’s in mortal danger I keep seeing them taking on dementors with their magical baguette, brandishing supernatural bread in the face of unspeakable evil! That should be the title of book six, Harry Potter and the Killer Baguette of Doom.

Anyway, in further bookish news, I got a copy of Pride and Prejudice in French, despite my reservations about reading Austen, Woolf, and Shakespeare in translation. They combine the Famous First Sentence (“It is a truth universally acknowledged…”) with the second one in the French translation, which is just WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. Anyway, tune in next time to hear about my search for Charles Perrault and the fairy tales of the 17th century salons…


le soif des livres francais/French book lust June 8, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 6:43 am

I miss my books. Not just books in general, but my books, my Jane Austens and my poetry anthologies (Oh Walt Whitman! Tu me manques beaucoup!) and my Madeliene L’Engle. I hadn’t realized how much I relied on their comforting prescence until I left them. Reading in French, I have a very physical sense of being in a foreign place. I’ve bought three books so far in France: Royaumes: 16 grands recits de Fantasy (Kingdoms: 16 Great Fantasy Short Stories, roughly translated), Futurs Anterieurs: 15 recits de litterature steampunk (Future Past: 15 Stories from Steampunk Literature), and Contes et legendes de Savoie (Stories and Legends of Savoy). Everything about reading and bookshopping is different for me in France. Reading in English is second nature, like breathing, I never have to think about the act of reading itself. In French, I’ve improved considerably, but it’s work, and I don’t always succeed. Rather like stumbling around in the dark, or trying to make your way through a dense forest, attacking vocabulary and idioms with my dictionary as my machete (way to extend that metaphor Anne!) At home, I’m in my element in a bookstore, so utterly comfortable in English-language literature; I feel completely unmoored in the realm of French lit. I read Madame Bovary and Guy de Maupassant in high school, but that’s about the extent of my knowledge. Even the bookstores are organized strangely; une bibliotheque is a library, une librarie is a bookstore, and un bouquiniste seems to be a second-hand or used bookstore. All the books look more or less the same; they’re all the same height with bland white covers. It’s more expensive to get a book that resembles one published in America. You’ve got a number on the spine of the book, and a sign on the wall that lists the number and the corresponding price (i.e. all the books with a number 2 on the spine would cost say 2 euros). The French obviously do not have an appreciation of the codex as a physical object in and of itself. Les livres! They should be neat and tidy! Bien sur! Why would you want a fancy cover? Anyway, there’s un bouquiniste–an antique bookstore–in the ancien ville, the mediveal part of town, and with any luck I’ll finally be able to get inside. They keep French hours, like everywhere else here, which means they do business from “whenever we feel like opening” to “as soon as we want to go home.” To paraphrase Douglas Adams, time is an illusion, French time doubly so. So cross your fingers, because I’m hoping to find a period copy of the contes des fees (fairy tales) of the 18th century–Charles Perrault, Madame d’Aulnoy, etc.


vive la france June 3, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 5:49 am

Before I start breathlessly extolling the virtues of France, I have to state for the record that French keyboards are fucking messed up!! Anyway, I’m here, with a bit of a cold, and wouldn’t you know, I’ve met another lj dork, so I guess you’re not alone L (tu me manques beaucoup! j’ai envue a toi une carte postale de Paris. Et tu avais la raison quand tu m’a dit que je sais plus francais que je pensais.) Haven’t been to une librarie (bookstore) yet, but i borrowed some stuff–Stendhal, etc–from my host family. Et maintenant je dois faire du shopping.