Feast in real life, famine in a book

10 November 2011 § 1 Comment

9 novembre 2011

This evening, after a long day of classes that included the low point of reading our haikus and actually receiving critique from our professor during three-hour Provence class (it goes on and on . . . and on), we had a soirée at the centre. It involved many people eating chocolate fondue, crêpes with jam, and raclette, a type of cheese and also the name of a Swiss/French dish that involves melting the cheese and putting it on potatoes with cold meat. (Racler = to scrape; you scrape the melted part onto your food.) It seemed popular; c’est dommage that cheese is not an enjoyable part of life. The best part was getting to make one of my own crêpes. I haven’t done that since last summer in Russia, when I made them whenever I felt the urge to bake—we had no working oven, so they were the best alternative.

Behold, the glory of chocolate! (Sculpture from the Musée Granet in Aix)

After the party, at which everyone (students, administrators, tuteurs, random friends of the tuteurs) was present, Sara, Maggie, Laura, and I cached ourselves in Laura’s garret room for Bible study, and then I worked on my presentation of Zola’s Germinal. It’s my first time doing a close study of French naturalism, and especially this novel reminds me of the social unrest in Charlotte Brontë’s Shirley, a book I love enough to have read thrice. Naturalism in general makes me think of Dostoevsky (and Dickens, in some ways), but French naturalism is a bit on its own in that it doesn’t inhabit the same realms of theological reference and richness that lingers in every sentence of Dostoevsky. I hope that I did not make false general statements here . . .

Choubrac-Léon poster in Gil Blas advertising the serialization of Germinal, November 1884

Gérard Depardieu as Toussaint Maheu in the 1993 film adaptation

Earlier in the evening, before the party and while we were recovering from Provence class, Sara and Maggie and I made some exciting plans for Christmas break reading and a sort of book club. Sara can give all of the twentieth-century suggestions; as a rule/habit, I don’t read things that appeared after 1900.

In other news . . . The Parents are coming!


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