The summer of a smarty-pants…

Browsing through the free Kindle e-books, I ran across a copy of both The Charterhouse of Parma (La Chartreuse de Parme) and The Red and the Black (Le Rouge et le Noir) by Stendhal–in French.  So, of course, I downloaded them.  What is the fun of reading without a true challenge?  [And they are on my Classics Club list!]

Can I read French?  Yes.  I actually read it a heck of a lot better than I speak it!

The plan?  No plan–I’m flying by the seat of my pants.  I haven’t read anything of significant length since college where I read a few random short stories, Camus’ L’Étranger, and part of Hugo’s Les Misérables (until I got bored).  Mostly, this will be a wild stab in the dark…


  • French/English dictionary.
  • Book in translation.  I’m thinking I will pick up a copy of the Oxford translation of The Red and the Black done by Catherine Slater as a backup to my bumbling French skills.  I’ve seen commentary about C.K. Scott Montcrieff’s version being stilted and Burton Raffel’s new version being too fast-and-loose by updating certain words to fit the 21st century; I’d prefer something straightforward without stumbling over language or pacing.  Translations are always a gamble.

Why do I want to torture myself?  I spent a solid semester reading Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and several other works in the original Middle English during my undergrad program.  I slept with the Riverside Chaucer and a translation because it took me ages to get used to the vocabulary of it; it was the first thing I read before class and the last thing I read before bed.  Making sure I understood the work took a lot of time, but I enjoyed it.  I am hoping the desire to push myself and my reading skills will be just as rewarding for my French as it was for my experience with Middle English.

When will all this kick off?  Probably July 1.  I am not really reading with any kind of intensity at the moment due to the Camp Nanowrimo.  Since the writing project will be complete at the end of the month, starting next month seemed sensible.


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