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Best novel ever written in French---plus a bit more

Ron Bolus

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[quote user="Pommier"][quote user="sweet 17"]

Actually, I do like American literature though I'd be hard pushed to name one book that I love above all others. [/quote]

How about The Grapes of Wrath?


Of Mice and Men ?

Edit:  are any of these wonderful American novels translated into French?  I'm going to have a bit of a google as I would love to read a short book (whose story I already know) in French and see how they translate some typical American concepts like "speakeasy"?[:)]

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Which draws on a common Biblical trope of the idea of wine press crushing the grape as being similar to the sinner getting his deserts:

Revelation 14:17-20

Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle.

Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar

and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, "Take your

sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth's vine,

because its grapes are ripe."

The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God's wrath.

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Bringing together the idea of filmed novels, and the original post I am a bit surprised that nobody has mentioned Les Misérables , perhaps because of the ghastly Musical of the same name.

I saw the 1982 film version in Paris and immediately read the book which is a big read [:P]

This article covers some of the better known film versions..


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Yes, LesMis is an obvious candidate for comment, Norman.

I have not read it in French but always considered the English version a huge classic from first reading.

As for film versions, the 1935 version is my favourite ( by a long way) : Charles Laughton always apleasure to watch ; and Frederic March played Valjean in an excellent understated way ( March is IMO a very under-rated film star---with a long career : have you seen his role as US President in the outstanding 1960s film "Seven Days In May"? ).

BTW, I await your views on my earlier comment about Le Silence de la Mer , which you raised for discussion.

And , as I love both book and movie , I await your next assignment eagerly ( unless it's summat I've never heard of [:D] ).

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Sorry Ron I missed your comments amidst the thread drift westwards..

I think both films do a good job, but my final question was the nub of my objections to the whole thing.

Many of the 'pro-French culture' comments are supposed to be being made by a German, but of course are really written by a French author and presented by Melville.

I know a few reasonably well-educated people here who haven't spotted this, and even quote things from the film  at me as Goispel truth , such as the comments about France being 'the country of literature'  or that German high command would have been civilised by being in France, conveniently forgetting Pétain et al..

The Melville film seems to me a masterpiece BUT one that I can't stomach, a slight 'twist' on sweet's point about life and art being separate.

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Thank you Norman. I appreciate what you say. And, as the author was delighted by the Melville film, it would suggest that your pro-French propaganda "leanings" are correct-----and, in fact, I think I agreed with that in my original reply to you ( where I refused to "fence-sit" ). Melville was of course a leading light of the Resistance Movement, a wanted man by the Germans.

What do you think of the 1960s film of the 1920s novel "Belle de jour", as I imagine you will have seen it ( you may have also read the original novel on which the film is flimsily based ). I like the film a lot and, to be sexist and politically-incorrect, I think Catherine Deneuve is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen  ( with great respect to Hedy Lamarr ).

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Charles Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities" which I'm just now re-reading (in English) after a very long time. How did I never notice before his magic descriptions, ranging from people's appearance to the mist over the heathland?  I think I was always in too much of a hurry to find out what would happen. I am looking forward to my next "fix" tonight!

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What do you think of the 1960s film of the

1920s novel "Belle de jour", as I imagine you will have seen it ( you

may have also read the original novel on which the film is flimsily

based ).

You can get a bit of an idea of my taste in French Films from the French cinema thread in which you haven't posted yet, as well as my taste in books from the previous threads in which we have recommended French books.

I think I am in a minority of 1 over Buñuel. I don't get on with and don't "get" what his films are about.

I understand what they are trying to do, but they don't do it for me. I feel in Belle de jour that he is only setting out to shock and gain a succès de scandale.

I don't feel in anyway drawn into the motivations of any of the characters nor interested by any sort of plot development or intrigue.

I find the narrative technique that mixes fantasy with reality unsettling and difficult to follow.

I also find the  costumes and set very alienating, and the ending a classic example of a director not knowing how to finish but fooling the critics into making  a virtue out of his failure.

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  • 1 month later...
"Jazzer"]Just caught up with this thread. I don't feel I have sufficient knowledge to comment on the best novel. Phillipe Delerm is an author I think very much under rated- I have several of his books. A good starter is "La prèmiere gorgée de bière( et autres plaisirs miniscules).The stories are short-normally 2- 3 pages, sufficient to hold attention,learn about everyday French life and get to grips with the language.The title story makes me thirsty thinking of it- and ready to taste the delights if "Le paquet de gâteaux du dimanche matin"Thanks for this recommendation. I bought it on my Kindle and I'm enjoying it. Just the right length of story if your french isn't fluent and the vocab is easy enough for you to get the gist but difficult enough in place to stretch you.Not so difficult as to be off-putting though. Thanks.
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  • 2 months later...

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