Wednesday, November 27, 2013

French Classics -Abridged in Easy French

Last week I picked up a pile of books at the Alliance Francaise at Pune. Since I'm allowed two books from the children's section, I tend to choose classics from there to get a quick glimpse of what would otherwise consume more hours of reading than I'm prepared to devote at present.
La Morte Amoureuse by Theophile Gautier (Lecture en Francais facile, from Cle International), is an early Vampire story. The edition opens with a small write up on the author, proceeds to introduce the characters of the story with picture portraits and is broken up into chapters, each followed by a set of simple and engaging exercises. The chapters are interspersed with picture story type interludes. This is another good strategy to engage the reluctant reader.
As such this abridged version did not tempt me to follow it up with the original but it did inspire me to read up about the story and I'm enchanted to read that
 Gautier uses colors associated with Orientalism throughout his work: red, green, white, silver and gold. Each of these colors are the foundation of a symbolism of colors in "La Morte amoureuse". This is particularly notable in the descriptions of Clarimonde, with her green eyes, her red lips (with red drops of blood), her white skin, her silver voice, her green and gold traveling gown, etc.
I also learned that the title is inspired from Delacroix's painting. 

File:Delacroix - La Mort de Sardanapale (1827).jpg
La Mort de Sardanapale
 Gautier was apparently a wannabe painter and this was his way of offering homage to the great painter whom he had met some years before this story emerged.
I think you can buy or order it at Goyal Saab's if you live in India.
Alternatively, if your French is up for it, read it here or here if you'd like the English translation.