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The Chinese Joan of Arc

Posted by on Jan 29, 2022 in Miscellaneous Jottings | 0 comments

Lin Zhao was a figure of Chinese dissidence under Mao. This daughter of a bourgeois, the eldest child of an affluent family in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, engaged in the Communist Revolution and executed without a trial during the Cultural Revolution, today enjoys the status of an icon for many intellectuals in her country. The short life of Lin Zhao, born...

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You are an Eternal Book

Posted by on Jan 29, 2022 in French Literature, French Poets | 0 comments

In those early days, the poet’s mother was an idolized figure, the object of the poet’s total love. ‘At least you are an eternal book’, Baudelaire wrote at the dawn of his 18th birthday to the woman who made the mistake of marrying the austere General Aupick, only a year after his father’s death. Collected under the title Cette maladresse maternelle qui me...

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To be a visionary

Posted by on Jun 9, 2021 in Miscellaneous Jottings | 0 comments

Herman Melville once wrote to Nathaniel Hawthorne in these words:    In a week or so, I go to New York, to bury myself in a third-story room, and work and slave on my “Whale” while it is driving through the press. That is the only way I can finish it now, — I am so pulled hither and thither by circumstances. The calm, the coolness, the...

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Is etymology relevant?

Posted by on Jul 26, 2020 in Miscellaneous Jottings | 0 comments

It did not take us long to transform civilization. In fifty years, we have almost stopped making war, standardised the possibility of making love without increasing the population, quarantined half of humanity, taken from our children the games once played by hands and offered them video games instead, and replaced books with social networks! The digital...

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Montaigne’s back room

Posted by on Apr 3, 2020 in Miscellaneous Jottings | 3 comments

In these days of solitary confinement, this correspondent remembers a one-time lawyer and courtier in 16th century France who inscribed a few lines in Latin on a pillar of his study that read like this: “…. on the last day of February, his birthday, Michael de Montaigne, long weary of the servitude of the court and of public employments, while still...

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