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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Listing and Musing

I've been busy creating an "uberlist" - the link is to Carl's explanation. I do have a talent for list making. I have 35 items so far, and some of those have subtopics. Truthfully, some of "my" list entails my husband's items; quite a few, actually. :) The talent for list-making does not necessarily extend to completion, but boy, can I create a good list.

Yesterday resulted in not a line read in a book of any kind. Very unusual, as I almost always devote time in the evening to reading. I'm not too far into the Voltaire biography (I really need a French history update), but I am enjoying it so far. Will I read Candide? That would be a start to an interesting reading itenerary. Or maybe something on the French Revolution, or Marie Antoinette, or ... well, of course, the possibilities are endless.

My knowledge of French literature is mostly limited to names and titles, not to content, and there are so many excellent authors and poets. Poetry, though, stands the chance of losing so much in translation, which is why I don't think I've ever been too drawn to French poetry. (That is an excuse, of course.) I do love some of Montaigne's essays, and translation doesn't appear to lose the wit and sense of companionability there. The language is so convoluted and the syntax so archaic, however, that I have to read a great while with little understanding before I settle in to make sense. Whole paragraphs, escape me (and have to be re-read) then I happen a single line or sentence that is abundantly clear. For example, the following is one sentence (though quite a long one) that is as true today as it was in the 1500's. He is advising a young woman who has requested his opinion about the education of children:

'Tis the custom of pedagogues to be eternally thundering in their pupil's ears, as they were pouring into a funnel, while the business of the pupil is only to repeat what the others have said: now I would have a tutor to correct this error, and, that at the very first, he should, according to the capacity he has to deal with, put it to the test, permitting his pupil himself to taste things, and of himself to discern and choose them, sometimes opening the way to him, and sometimes leaving him to open it for himself; that is, I would not have him alone to invent and speak, but that he should also hear his pupil speak in turn.


  1. I'm going to have to check out this uberlist thing as soon as I catch up a bit on all my favorite blogs.

    Voltaire and Candide sound very brave, indeed.

  2. Well, I've put off Candide for "lo these many years" - I don't know why I resist.

  3. Glad to see you joining the uberlist crew...I can make a good list as well. I have not completed mine but I have a good start thus far.