Henry and June, Anaïs Nin

Hi!

Good news: summer is coming and here is a new article!

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Drawn from journals, this book is an account of a woman’s awakening, covering a single momentous year – 1931-32, in Paris. When Anaïs Nin meets the writer Henry Miller and his beautiful wife June, her idealized vision of love, passion, creation and experience is undermined. Her life is plunged in a psychological, emotional and sexual turmoil, as she becomes more and more entangled in diverse relationships built on both manipulation and candid abandon. In between moments of deep solitude and love, she goes on a journey of self-discovery and discovery of her loved ones with the help of journal writing and psychoanlalysis. This book not only offers a love story but also an intimate vision of two major writers of the 20th century and a tale of a woman’s liberation.

I found this book rather « bewitching » despite some lengthy passages when Anaïs Nin loses herself in introspection. It is both an erotic and psychological work, which is interesting but not really life-changing for the reader.

After the tragic events of Monday in Manchester, it is a time to re-think the importance of music and art in general. Thus, by the end of June, I will post various music-related stuff here, make sure to stay tuned to celebrate music and books 😉

Mr. Darcy’s Diary, Amanda Grange

Hi !

I still love the story of Pride and Prejudice, no matter how cliché it is.

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Anyway, if you don’t know Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen yet, you should read it, preferably before watching the adaptations or reading any sequel, including Mr. Darcy’s Diary.

For those of you who dream of knowing Mr. Darcy’s thoughts…

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You can read this :

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Without further ado, here’s a quick summary.

As his best friend, Mr. Bingley, settles in Netherfield, Mr. Darcy, a wealthy landowner, meets the Bennet family living in Longbourn, composed of a chatty mother, a cynical father and five maids. Even though he despises their company, Darcy’s interest for Elizabeth Bennet grows. Nevertheless, she thinks of him as a haughty man. Can love overcome the obstacles of Darcy’s pride and Lizzy’s prejudices ?

I read this novel an Jane Austen’s at the same time and, unsurprisingly, found Amanda Grange’s style easier to read. The most important parts of the story are barely modified but Grange took the liberty of adding new details, including some subtle PDA, not always relevant. I enjoyed this refreshing look over Darcy’s character, which sometimes appears loveable and funny, while Austen didn’t make him very expressive.

Jane Austen lovers are likely to appreciate this « bonus »!

Here’s an amusing quote :

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Thirteen reasons why, Jay Asher

Hi!

I’m afraid it’s been quite a while since my last post in English…  Well, today I am going to tell you about my last reading in English.

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For a trailer, you can click here.

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I knew about Thirteen reasons why by Jay Asher when it was translated into French some years ago (jeez, I’m getting so old!). I thought the plot was interesting but never really read it… Until two weeks ago, when I heard Selena Gomez is going to release a Netflix series based on this book.

Clay receives a box of cassette tapes recorded by Hannah, his first love, who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Her voice explains to thirteen people how they changed her life and became thirteen reasons why she decided to end it. There can be no forgetting. Every detail matters.

I was pleasantly surprised. The form alternates between Hannah’s records and Clay’s reaction to it, which I found unusual. Even though there are parties, shallow girls, douchebags and a wallflower as in every teen story, the plot and characters are deeper than this. The focus is not on the love story or the mean acts Hannah faced. The book shows how intense and fragile are emotions for teenagers. Indeed, Hannah lost hope and stopped trying because of events that would’ve looked minor after she grew up. She thought no one could help her when the ones who cared about her were just waiting for her to tell them what was going on. I could remember social issues feeling overwhelming when I was a little younger than Hannah… For once, teenagers are seen as stupid and sensitive, which seems more accurate.

It is no literary masterpiece but stands out on the shelves of books for teens.

Personally, I don’t think it can be successfully adapted on screen… The book is easy enough to read not to be lazy to the point of watching it. Are you looking forward to seeing Selena Gomez’s work?

I almost forgot to tell you that you can listen to bits of Hannah’s tapes here! To avoid spoilers, you should wait to have finished the book before.

Vocabulary time!

  • Rewind = rembobiner
  • Fast-forward = accélérer
  • Wiper blades = essuie-glaces

One more thing before you go! The SWMRS’re a band with Joey Armstrong, son of the Green Day lead singer, as a drummer? What’s the link with my chronicle? Their song Hannah has a vibe similar to the tone of the book… and I can’t help encouraging the Armstrong family :p So please just click here to listen.

The Canterville Ghost, Oscar Wilde

Hi !

May 2017 bring us lots of stuff to learn ! Let’s start from now with a bilingual classic !

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If you don’t have a chance to grab a bilingual edition in France, you can get one on Amazon

The Canterville Ghost, or Le Fantôme de Canterville in French, was the first short story by Oscar Wilde to be published. It appeared in two parts in The Court and Society Review in 1887.

The eponym character is a ghost called Sir Simon. When the american family Otis buys Canterville Chase, its former owner tells them it has been haunted for centuries by Sir Simon Canterville who murdered his wife and was starved to death by his wife’s brothers. However, for the first time, the ghost fails at frightening the inhabitants of the castle, no matter how hard he tries. Losing against the modern and pragmatic nature of the Otis family, Sir Simon feels humiliated and helpless. Then, surprinsingly, Virginia, the daughter of Mr Otis, shows concern for Sir Simon’s despair and becomes his friend.

Oscar Wilde, with his signature wit, uses and abuses of clichés in order to ridicule the caricatural visions of Gothic literature and American people which were common at his time. The Canterville Ghost is a sweet and funny short-story which conveys, beyond parody, a message on the importance of love. As a consequence, reading this could give you an insight on XIXth century Gothic literature and Oscar Wilde’s style.

It can be read three times in row -in French, with the CD and in English- without much time nor effort, which makes it a painless way to improve your language skills.

In case you’d like to know more…

A French translation of this post is available here.