Lettre à Georges Bernanos
A letter written by Simone Weil in response to Georges Bernanos’s les Grands cimetières sous la lune (1938), in which he commented on events he witnessed in Majorca shortly before (1936-37) during the Spanish Civil War.
Les Demoiselles de Rochefort
A text of a scene from Jacques Demy’s les Demoiselles de Rochefort written in alexandrines, with commentary and English translation.
Letter nº 505: À un ami
A letter by George Bernanos dated 1939, written to an imaginary correspondent, a young writer Bernanos conceives of as facing the same doubts and difficulties he himself had known.
Compound Past and the Poet
Passé composé in Alfred de Musset's "Tristesse"
A grammatical and linguistic analysis of the poem “Tristesse” by Alfred de Musset, with special emphasis on the use of the passé composé, and an English translation.
Le Siècle de Louis XIV: Introduction (Chapter 1)
Voltaire’s Age of Louis XIV (1751) was one of the works in which he inaugurated a new kind of historiography, one more interested in portraying a total civilization that in detailing kings and their wars.
Maximes de La Rochefoucauld
A fairly easy text for practice reading French: a selection of maxims by that king of the form, the 17th-century French moraliste François de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680). Introduced, glossed, and translated.
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
A fairly easy text for practice reading French, although it does involve a nice array of past tenses (simple past, pluperfect, and imperfect). From Jules Verne’s Vingt mille lieues sous la mer (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea)
A dialogue purporting to be the oral examination of a French student being tested on André Gide's la Symphonie pastorale. Good and easy practice of French question-forms. Also, a funny satire highlighting strengths and weaknesses of the French educational system.
Une Visite médicale
A humorous dialogue that skewers the French haute-bourgeoisie and also makes fun of a certain kind of French doctor.
Concessive Conditions in Les Liaisons dangereuses
An Elegant Construction Still in Use Today
Examples of the conditionnel concessif from Chloderlos de Laclos’s famous epistolary novel of 1782. Some involve the conditional present introduced by quand (rather than the imperfect indicative introduced by si), and some involve the imperfect subjunctive.
The first poem in Le Spleen de Paris (1869), Baudelaire’s collection of poems in prose, and the easiest poem he ever wrote. A series of questions and answers that, according to a likely interpretation, examine the nature of the poet.
Poem 33 in Baudelaire’s collection of prose poems le Spleen de Paris. Short and simple, this text embodies the poet’s rage to escape from this world by any means.
Anywhere Out of the World (N’importe où hors de ce monde)
Prose poem #48, in which Baudelaire presents himself searching throughout the world for a place where his soul and he can be at peace. (It turns out there is no such place.)
Réflexions sur la barbarie: Full Translation
French text with complete English translation of this 1939 piece by Simone Weil.
Petits problèmes et travaux pratiques
Questions of the sort that a French lycéen(ne) is altogether likely to encounter. Or not.
De l’inconvénient d’être né: Selections
A selection of dark but memorable aphorisms from Emil Cioran’s 1973 De l’inconvénient d’être né. With glosses and English translation.
Berlioz vs. Cherubini
The amazing story of how the famous composer Berlioz was, before he was famous, chased around a library table by the at the time much more famous Cherubini. With glosses to the French text and English translation.
First Holy Communion and First Musical Experience
In the first chapter of his Mémoires, Berlioz amusingly relates the experience of his First Communion, which was also the occasion of an early appreciation of the opposite sex and a first memorable musical impression: mystic, erotic, and melodic all in one.
Dialogues des Carmélites: The Spiritual Advice of Mother Henriette
Two scenes from Dialogues des Carmélites by Bernanos (†1948), in which Blanche de la Force gets to hear the spiritual doctrine of the Prioress Mother Henriette. With English translation.
Dialogues des Carmélites: The Motion Picture(s)
A videoclip of the scene from the 1984 film version of Dialogues des Carmélites in which Blanche meets with the Prioress, Mère Henriette, for the first time, together with the French text as adapted for this production and an English translation.