Surviving A Massacre—Catherine Meurisse And Art’s Curative Power

Catherine Meurisse

Yesterday marked the 6-year anniversary of the savage terrorist attack on the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo. That morning, two gunmen killed 12 members of Charlie Hebdo’s staff and left 11 injured. I wrote about one of the courageous survivors, Coco, back in 2017. The word courageous, however, doesn’t do…

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The Story of French and How it Became a Remarkably Popular Language

Last week I began summarizing some of the highlights from The Story of French, by Jean-Benoît Nadeau and Julie Barlow. My post left off in the midst of the French Revolution. I read much of the book in November. During the week of our election, I was learning that at…

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The Mystifying Popularity of the French Language Revealed

Parlez-vous français?

Today, France lands at number 22 in the list of countries when ranked by population size. Yet, French is the 5th most spoken language in the world, behind English, Mandarin, Hindi, and Spanish. It’s an impressive status for a relatively small country—49th in the world in terms of geographic area.…

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When in a Pinch, Look to Diderot’s Encyclopedia

Focus image

For the last two weeks, I’ve been experiencing increasingly annoying pain in my right arm. This all began after spending many consecutive hours at my computer, sitting on a wooden chair that belonged to my grandfather, working on my Evangeline post. Anyway, this week, I started waking up with excruciating…

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Evangeline, Longfellow’s Epic Poem and its Remarkable French Translation

Evangeline book cover

In recent weeks, I’ve been making my way through The Story of French, a history of the French language. In a chapter devoted to French spoken in Canada, I was reminded of the history of the Acadian people. The authors made note of an epic poem, Evangeline by Henry Wadsworth…

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Short Fiction from Steinbeck and Triolet, Popular 20th-Century Luminaries

Painting attributed to Vincent Van Gogh

Since getting serious about blogging last spring, I’ve started visiting other blogs to gain insights and inspiration. In doing so, I’ve discovered a vast and varied online community of people that typically write well about their passions and perspectives. One popular subgroup contains book enthusiasts that read scads of books…

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Juliette Drouet; The Lonely Life of Hugo’s Devoted Mistress

Juliette Drouet, circa 1850

Two weeks ago, I wrote about a love letter that Victor Hugo wrote to his mistress, Juliette Drouet, shortly after fleeing France to live in exile. In that post, I remarked that over the course of their impressive 50-year relationship, Juliette penned roughly 20,000 letters to the storied author. It’s…

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