Sunday, November 30, 2014


Love and friendship are salvation when aging


This is not a small little tiny film to spend a Saturday evening in peace and quite with no mental work at all. This film deserves a lot of attention. It speaks of crucial existential questions.

First of all, the racial identity of a person. A man who is lily white in a black family, of course mother, father, brother and sister are all mixed-bloods, all with different shades of grey, but he is white and he does not want to be the victim of any racial prejudice. So he pretends he is white and to more or less cover all fields, terrains and domains he decides to make himself Jewish. As a Jew he can go through society being slightly special, different, awkward about the racial divide without being accused of being black.

Till one day when he is accused of being a racist because he wondered in his class if a couple of students who had never attended one single session were “spooks.” Unluckily, though unknown of him, the said students were black and they signed a complaint against the professor accusing him of being a racist, and he was fired because of course he kept it perfectly secret that he himself was black. In fact if he had told these narrow-minded bureaucrats in his college he was black and had been hiding that fact for more than fifty years, he would have been accused of being a racist at the higher second level, at the level where you try to evade your own racial origin.

But this crisis late in his life brings his wife down, who had never known he was black. She just dies because the stress of this situation gets to her heart. Then he is alone and that’s how he gets in touch with a writer he had taught and who was not too far away, living like a recluse in some cabin in the mountains. He wants that writer to write the story of his life. The point is that the writer does not really want to do it but the younger recluse writer and the older fired professor fall in friendship, in fact they fall in love, the strange love between an older man and a younger man, a mental and spiritual love that gives some energy back to the older man who starts a new life late in his existence, and that gives some new motivation to the younger writer who finds a new inspiration for a further volume in his creative writing experience. Just exploring this friendship would be a great dimension for this film. And it sure is.

But this film goes one step further and the older man meets a younger woman who is attracted by older men because at the age of fourteen she got into some “accident” with some step father or who cares whom, and she hit the road. The older man, thanks to Viagra, and we are told about the blue pill quite a few times, though it is absolutely not important, falls in love with this woman and this time heftily at the sexual level of love, if sex is part of love. There is nothing that can in anyway fit in on one hand that older intellectual who has run away from his racial origin and his ethnic identity, and on the other hand this younger woman who is running away from an older husband who is absolutely dangerous because he is psychologically at least unstable if not frankly berserk, delirious, insane and murderous. And yet love there is though both, the older intellectual man and the younger hardly educated woman, will be caused to die in a road accident by the ex-husband one night on a frozen road in the mountains. A perfect crime because no one found anything linking his truck to the car that jumped into a frozen lake and went through the ice.

This should lead many people to wondering what love, sexual or not, between an older person and a younger person, I mean with at least a thirty year difference, can mean, can be. No one but the concerned people can answer that question: it is an exhilarating and unique experience that only concerns a few people. Most of the time grandfathers/mothers and mothers/fathers experience that kind of love with their grandchildren or their own children. But some come cross this experience in life. Most of the time, around such couples (sexual or not, that is not the point), people will say that the older person is just living in phantasms and fantasies while the younger person is taking advantage of the older man. It may be so now and then, but it is not always so.

The film shows one element that is crucial. Such an encounter will bring the older person to opening the drawers of his/her long ago life and bring into light traumas that had been kept secret, hidden away, and unluckily must I say, this older person will be accused of imagining things and being delusional, except by his/her partner in this relation. I personally think that an older person who has kept some “secret” deep in his/her memory hidden away from the world around is actually looking for another person who could help him/her open the box, recapture the past, bring it out of the shadow in which it had been locked and imprisoned for at times forty or fifty years. The younger person is the intercessor, the go-between and enables the older person to cope with the suffering that has to come along with this re-discovery. That film is a marvelous exploration of that cruel and painful past of the older lily-white black person who has covered his track by declaring himself Jewish.

Just enjoy this film and take a walk on memory lane and check if deep in your unconscious mind and memory there is not something that should be brought back up. If you can’t do it by yourself look for the one who is going to be your catalyzer and share what you find with that other person. It will produce some unimaginable friendship or love and sharing that past will be one thousand times more pleasurable than plain sex that is so often mixed up with love, although it is nothing but the cherry on top of the pastry, the star at the top of the Christmas tree, the wrapping of some birthday present, the frosting of any homemade cake.

What can we do if some people are obsessed by taking the cherry, caressing the star, disrobing the present or licking their fingers clean after dipping them in the frosting? Don’t forget you can always know an elephant has been in your fridge when you see the footprints it left in the butter.



1 October 2010
When racism becomes a crime against oneself

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film is more than disquieting; It is disturbing. An older senior professor is fired (he resigns but that is the same) when confronted to some accusation of misconduct because he asked one day if two students he was trying to question and who had never come to his class were spooks. The two students were black, which he could not know. At the beginning we see a car accident and we will see the same scene at the end and we will know who were in the car and we will have to guess what happened. In the meantime we find out that this older man falls in love with a younger woman, twice younger than he is, in her early thirties. That love affair does not work properly and yet it is an unbreakable love affair. But the woman is divorced, slightly unstable and her ex-husband is completely berserk and he is suffering of the trauma of Vietnam veterans who cannot get over the obsessive compulsive disorder of theirs that make them do strange things without any reason or conscience. Those are for sure spooks and they may spook the hell out of you. Since he was present on the final death scene, we can imagine the reaction of the ex-professor when he saw the red truck on the deep snow on the road in the mountains. But that's the easy way. Shortly after his being fired and his wife dying of a heart attack in his arms because of it he goes and meets an author who has completely retired in the mountain and they both fall not in love but in complete friendship. 

We have then two cases of an old man in love with a younger woman and in friendship with a younger man. I think the second case is dealt with more realism. Such a friendship is direct, often brutal in tone and content but absolute in trust and unbreakable. Such a friendship is like a buoy for a drowning old man and a tremendous discovery for the younger man if he is curious and accepts the bond, because it is a bond. Of course there is no erotic dimension to that. The two become soul brothers and enjoy every moment and every hard word of this experience because it is their deepest soul and mind that are in love and this love or friendship becomes for both a kind of life line with the infinite. It is different with the woman because it is sexual and you do not need to be a great lawyer to fear some pregnancy problem or some fatherhood questioning eventually. The love between the two is not depicted with any tenderness. It is rather violent and rather uniquely centered on love thanks to Viagra. 

All that is the surface of the problem depicted on, the film. Some flashbacks reveal little by little that this professor who is known as white and Jewish is of a quite different origin and that is the very and deepest meaning of the "spook" remark. It is deeply racist but racist against himself and his choice to become a Jew is another sign of his racism by affiliating himself to a minority group that is hated by so many people in the world so that he will be hated by many. And then we can see the final death scene again and we can wonder if it is not a suicide. We can wonder or be sure, depending on the level of consciousness we have that racism is a stain deep in the mind, the soul and the spirit of a man, a stain he can only get rid of by killing himself, and in that case along with the younger woman he is supposed to love and is asleep next to him, as if he were afraid to go away alone. It is true when you lose the first girl you love because you take her to your family and she discovers they are not as white as she is and as her boyfriend, their son, is, there is like a long simmering desire to kill, at least to kill oneself because of this injustice, unfairness.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne, University Paris 8 Saint Denis, University Paris 12 Créteil, CEGID

Saturday, November 29, 2014


A romantic re-writing though it does not really enrich the original tale


This poem is surprising in its very shape.

The first part stages Tristram waiting for Iseult who is to arrive in Brittany to heal him from his latest poisoning after his latest battle, but we know better and we know it was his last battle. He is going to die. He comes and goes back in and out of consciousness. The small sections of his own discourse are sad but the most interesting sections are the long poetic ranting and raving in-between the short conscious declarations or calls. These long sections are in a very strange rhythmic pattern indeed.

The basic lines have three or four feet but the longer ones are split into two parts and we end up with short two feet or three feet units that are sounding, due to the heavy rhyming or sound patterns like rap more than romantic poetry. For example these six lines, each cut up in two, with the rhyming pattern

What Knight is this
so weak and pale, (1)
Though the locks are yet
brown on his noble head, (2)
Propt on pillows
in his bed, (2)
Gazing seawards
for the light (3)
Of some ship
that fights the gale (1)
On this wild
December night? (3)

And this very first section of this type at the very beginning of this first part of the poem has not yet caught its most vivid rhythm. It will evolve and it will remain irregular yet though pounding very strongly in our ears. It sounds like a poetry that has to be read aloud and listened to, not just plain read. This indeed is in phase with the old medieval poetry of the minstrels who went from castle to castle just to play their harps or their lutes and sing their romances and poems. The evolution leads to some sections like the following that are a lot stronger in their hammering.

Ah, sweet angels,
let him dream! (1)
Keep his eyelids!
let him seem (1)
Not this fever-
wasted wight (2)
Thinn’d and pal’d
before his time, (3)
But the brilliant
youthful knight (2)
In the glory
of his prime, (3)
Sitting in the
gilded barge, (4)
At thy side, thou
lovely charge! (4)

The general rhyming pattern is A-A-B-C-B-C-D-D, two rhymed couplets embracing two crossed pairs. And the rhythm is very fast and regular. You have to deliver each small piece in one breath of course but also in practically the same intonation, monotonous and flat though slightly climbing up on the rhymes. You add to this the systematic couples of words or sounds that balance every line, most of the time from the first half onto the second half and you have that throbbing or tormenting, why not lancinating music like death lurking around Tristram and waiting for its/his hour.

The second part starts with the dialogue between Tristram and Iseult. Tristram dies in the middle and then Iseult dies in her turn. We note this version suppresses the vengeful and trite if not mean lie of the Iseult of Brittany about the black or white sail. Alternating four line stanzas of pentameters with one rhyme on the second and third lines. This rhyming pattern thus expands the pentameters to a vaster and hence slower rhythm that fits both the dying and the love of these two doomed lovers. After nine alternating stanzas, Iseult delivers nine stanzas of her own, nine twice or eighteen, the number of the beast, three times six, but also nine the number of death, the ninth hour of Jesus dying on his cross. Then an alternating pair of stanzas and Tristram dies at the end of four and a half stanzas. His death is the completion of the pentacle closed up by the second half of the fifth stanzas said by Iseult who dies in her turn. And exceptionally these four lines are rhymed and crossed

Now to sail the seas of Death I leave thee
One last kiss upon the living shore!
Tristram!—Tristram!—stay—receive me with thee!
Iseult leaves thee, Tristram, never more.

And she dies. The last part is then a long reflection of the poet onto the events and then later the tapestry itself representing a hunting scene speaks to us and wonders about what it sees at its feet. And the conclusion is the evocation of a hunting scene as if we were finally at peace contemplating the tapestry itself, or maybe contemplating the vast landscape of the world beyond, the prairie of the almighty God in which Tristram will forever gallop after some boar or deer. Once a knight, forever a knight.

The most surprising section is the third one since it is a later vision of the heritage of Tristram but seen with the eyes of Iseult of Brittany. The section is not really needed. It does not amplify the lovers’ fate. It rather dilutes the tragic and sad ending into some mishy-mashy situation especially since Iseult has a couple of children, a boy and a girl and we are not really able to see the connection of these children with Tristram since Tristram was supposed never to have had any intercourse with his wife. Is it the idea from the author of this poem that such doomed couples will always exist, that the heritage of Tristram and Iseult is in this very doomed lot or is it sacrifice? And the poet uses a similar trick to that of the end of the second part. Iseult of Brittany tells a tale to the children to make them sleep and the tale is about Merlin and Vivian, the woman he is supposed to have loved. Then is it the meaning that humanity is doomed to repeat what happened between Merlin and Vivian, this doomed love from Merlin to the absolutely off-limit Vivian that cannot be loved by anyone. Merlin was then the prisoner of the curse that came with his love.

Is human love cursed? That’s what this poem sounds like. The curse of the philter, the “lovedrink,” the “vin herbé” prepared by Iseult’s mother was only a curse when it was not drunk by those targeted by the “magician” or the “witch,” hence when it was hijacked. Otherwise it is only a link between the two people who are supposed to drink it, a link comparable to a prison. Love is doomed, love is slavery in a way or another, a happy slavery if not misplaced, or a tragic slavery if diverted or misappropriated.

This apocalyptic vision of love is quite in phase with the romantic period of Matthew Arnold but in the medieval period, in fact in the long period before the romance ever was written down and during which it was invented, elaborated, created, imagined or whatever by many people, some poets, some not, and transmitted from one generation to the next orally with or without harp or lute music, maybe pipes and flutes, certainly some light percussions, the tale was different and corresponded to the emergence of love and the conflict it brought into society since it went against the tradition, the social rules and habits of marrying young girls to older men. Marriage was nothing but a social market where peace or war could be peddled in full light. Love could only disturb this established custom if not rule or even law. This whole mental revolution is behind the tale and will find some marvelous development with Romeo and Juliet or of course the doomed pairs of the romantic age like in the stories of Faust, Werther, Siegfried and so many others, English, French or German alike.



Divorce and marriage are reciprocal adulterous cuckholds


This is a comedy and nothing else, but a comedy about the worst tragedy imaginable: the exploitation of marriage by social climbing women who marry rich men only to divorce them later with a very comfortable alimony or settlement, or even more and worse than that: a fully naked stripping court order, the type of court order in which you have to borrow a bath towel from the concierge or plain night warden to be able to run to your taxi without being arrested.

Imagine one of the best divorce attorneys in the field who destroys the claim of one of these ladies in court by demonstrating, one key witness in the stand, that the lady is nothing but a marriage bounty huntress, and then there he is falling in love with her, marrying her on a whim, with the best pre-nup contract you can imagine, tearing it up just after the wedding, confronting her for the divorce and falling in love again in the confrontation in the lawyer’s office and this time she destroys the pre-nup.

Don’t try to see anything subtle or deep in that. Love is unpredictable and no one can live forever without love, even someone as cold as the iceberg that sank the Titanic or as calculating as a world class chess player. But I must say it is so funny to see all divorce procedures, out of court or in court, ridiculed and being made fun of. It is true that’s what they deserve. But even so, man, marriage is a sacred institution, isn’t it?

But do not try to have nightmares on such a film. That is absolutely impossible.



De deux folies l'une: le texte ancien est meilleur que toutes les traductions


Ces deux poèmes sont surprenants dans le fait que Tristan, pour voir sa belle, se déguise en fou. Il faut comprendre que le fou dans les cours médiévales était un rôle fort apprécié car il se livrait à toutes sortes de pantomimes, contorsions et surtout il avait le droit de dire toutes les vérités qu’il pouvait inventer ou découvrir. Il faisait rire par tout cela et il était un amuseur public. Tristan se déguisant en fou peut s’approcher du roi Marc et de la reine Iseult sans problème ; On niotera que l’habit fait le moine et le costume le fou. Sa stratégie est de dire devant la reine des choses que seuls lui et elle connaissent de leur passé commun d’amants pour lui faire comprendre qui il est. Ces poèmes sont des reprises de textes antérieurs : en principe ils n’inventent rien. La structure générale des deux est la même ou presque. Première scène en présence du Roi et de la cour. Le Roi se retire pour aller en chasse dans la Folie de Berne et sans raison explicite dans la Folie d’Oxford. Yseut dans les deux cas se retire dans sa chambre avec Brangien qu’elle envoie chercher le fou. Brangien est la première à le reconnaître dans la troisième scène entre elle et Tristan (réduite à presque rien dans la Folie d’O0xford). Puis la quatrième scène est dans la chambre d’Yseut. Tristan continue son conte de vérités anciennes pour faire comprendre à Yseut qui il est, ce qu’elle finit par réaliser.

La folie de Berne est la plus courte et les parties de récit d’événements anciens dans la première scène, puis dans les troisième et quatrième scènes ne sont pas linéairement du début à la fin chronologique, bien que les souvenirs présentés dans la première scène et dans la quatrième scène sont dans chacune de ces scènes chronologiques. Dans la première scène certes il commence avec le philtre puis ensuite l’épisode où il assume le nom de Tantris, puis la découverte dans la forêt par Marc avec l’épée nue entre eux et l’anneau donné par Yseult avant le bannissement. Ces événements sont bien dans l’ordre chronologique mais ils sont fort distants les uns des autres. Dans la quatrième scène par contre l’ordre chronologique est bien plus serré bien que assez décousu : le fait qu’il coupe le poing de Guimarant ; la harpe dans le bateau où blessé il sera transporté jusqu’en Irlande pour être guéri par Yseult ; la reconnaissance de l’épée de Tristan lors de son empoisonnement par la langue du dragon au cours de son second voyage avec l’éclat qui correspond à l’éclat qui a tué le Morholt ; le philtre sur la nef vers la Cornouaille ; le saut de la chapelle, les lépreux, le moine Ogrin ; Gusdent le chien ; et finalement l’anneau révélé. Tous ces épisodes sont bien dans l’ordre chronologique.

La principale caractéristique de cette folie est qu’elle est dynamique et qu’elle vise à bien décrire l’effet psychologique sur Yseult. La première scène insiste sur les malheurs de Tristan pour apitoyer Yseult. La quatrième scène insiste sur la générosité d’Yseult qui ne prend pas vengeance de Tristan alors qu’elle sait qu’il a tué son oncle, le Morhoult, et ensuite la fatalité du philtre et de ce qui s’ensuit, en particulier la fuite devant l’immolation et la vie dans la forêt. Cette folie insiste davantage sur le psychologique de part et d’autre. Il y a presque même un ton intimiste. Ceci étant, Yseult est peu engagée dans ce texte, en ce sens qu’elle ne réagit qu’une fois mais dans le ton nécessaire pour faire accroire qu’elle le prend bien pour un fou : « Fou, maudits soient les marins qui vous amenèrent ici d'outre la mer, quand ils ne vous ont pas jeté dans l'océan! » Ce sont plutôt les gens de la cour qui murmurent que ce fou est un peu trop près de la reine : « Par ma foi, il pourrait vite advenir que notre roi prenne au sérieux ce fou. » Mais le roi par en chasse.

Le fait que cette folie soit plus ramassée lui donne une densité dramatique importante.

Toute autre est la Folie d’Oxford. Elle est nettement plus longue et commence par une longue introduction de réflexions et préparatifs de Tristan. La scène entre Brangien est Tristan est réduite. On ne retrouve guère que les autres trois scènes. La première et la troisième sont nettement plus longues. Dans l’une comme dans l’autre beaucoup plus d’événement sont donnés et dans un strict ordre chronologique y compris du début de la première scène à la fin de la dernière scène. Cette lourdeur d’explications et de détails fait que cette folie semble plutôt artificielle. Yseult n’est pas vraiment subtile et elle exige pas mal de temps pour se laisser convaincre. Peut-être même qu’elle y prend un malin plaisir. Elle se fait en plus très agressive.

« A ces mots, Yseut jette un profond soupir. Le fou la chagrine et l'irrite; elle dit: "Qui t'a fait entrer céans? Non, tu n'es pas Tantris: tu mens." . . . "Eh bien, non! Tantris est beau et noble, et toi tu es gros, affreux et difforme, tu es un imposteur. Va-t-en et ne m'importune plus de tes criailleries: je déteste tes balivernes et tes sornettes." Le roi éclate de rire, car la scène l'amuse fort; Yseut rougit et garde le silence. . . Yseut répond: "Quelles sottises! Vous humiliez les chevaliers, vous qui n'êtes qu'un fieffé sot. Puissiez-vous être mort! Allez-vous en, de par Dieu!" . . .  - Non, ce n'est pas vrai, et vous mentez. Vous avez rêvé toutes ces sornettes. Vous étiez ivre hier soir en vous couchant, et l'ivresse vous a fait divaguer.” . . . A ces paroles, Yseut se drape dans son manteau et se lève, impatiente de s'en aller. Le roi l'arrête et l'invite à se rasseoir. Il la retient par sa cape d'hermine et la ramène à ses côtés . . . "Excusez-moi, sire, dit Yseut. Je ne suis pas bien, j'ai la tête lourde: j'irai reposer dans ma chambre. Tout ce tapage me fatigue." Le roi la laisse partir. Elle descend de son siège et s'en va. Elle gagne sa chambre, la mine sombre. Elle gémit tristement sur son sort. Elle s'est assise sur son lit; elle se lamente intensément. "Hélas, dit-elle, quel malheur est le mien! J'ai le cœur las et suis désespérée." Elle ajoute aussitôt: "Brangien, ma sœur, j'ai envie de mourir. Je voudrais être morte, quand ma vie est si cruelle et si éprouvante. Où que j'aille, tout m'est hostile: oui, Brangien, je ne sais que faire; car il est arrivé au palais un fou qui porte la tonsure en croix. Maudit soit-il! Il m'a fait tant de mal. Oui, ce fou, ce bailleur de folles sornettes est un devin ou un enchanteur, car il me connaît très bien et n'ignore rien, chère compagne, de toute ma vie. Oui, Brangien, je me demande qui lui a confié des secrets que personne sinon Tristan, toi et moi ne sauraient connaître, car ces secrets ne concernent que nous. Ce truand, ma foi, n'a appris tout cela que par enchantement. On ne saurait faire un rapport plus exact des faits, et il n'a rien dit qui fût mensonge." »

Quand on considère les événements donnés dans cette folie on est surpris par leur grand nombre. Dans la première scène avec le Roi présent : l’épisode de Tantris, du Morholt, de la blessure, du bateau, du premier voyage vers l’Irlande, et de sa guérison ; le deuxième voyage vers l’Irlande où il est envoyé par Marc pour trouver la belle blonde ; l’épisode du dragon, de la tête et de la langue, du poison dans la langue et de la guérison ; le bain et l’épée ébréchée et donc la réelle identité de Tristan ; les parents qui confient Yseut et Brangien pour les amener à Marc ; le philtre. Dans la troisième scène avec la seule Yseult il commence par un argument de raison : « l’homme qui aime se souvient. », puis il enchaîne les événements : le sénéchal qui dénonce les amants à Marc ; le nain qui espionne les amants : la farine et le sang, puis le bannissement ; le chien Petitcru (sans mention du grelot) ; Yseut qui fut séduite par un harpeur et sauvée par Tristan ; le bannissement : les copeaux comme signal, les rencontres sous le pin, le nain qui surveille, le roi dans le pin ; l’épreuve judiciaire, Tristan porte Yseut dans ses bras et en tombant Yseut le prend entre ses cuisses, d’où le faux mensonge dans le serment ; dans la forêt, le chien Husdent, le fait qu’ils soient découverts par le roi et le nain, le gant contre le soleil, l’épée entre les amants ; Husdent à moment-là qui reconnaît Tristan ; l’épisode du verger et finalement l’anneau de toutes les reconnaissances.

On peut alors négliger l’erreur du souvenir partagé par Yseult et Brangien dans la chambre d’Yseult où l’erreur du philtre est attribuée à un jeune homme.

Quoique puisse en dire Jacques Horrent dans son article « La composition de la Folie Tristan de Berne [FB] » (In: Revue belge de philologie et d'histoire. Tome 25 fasc. 1-2, 1946. pp. 21-38. doi : 10.3406/rbph.1946.1733 Il y a là un souci dramatique dans les réparties et surtout dans les deux moments où Tristan attaque l’assistance comme pour prouver sa folie. Il y a là le dramatique d’une possible mise en scène car cette scène est une mise en scène. Par contre dans la Folie de Berne il y a avait une construction dramatique mais de simple ordre psychologique dans le personnage de Tristan et son rapport à Yseult.

Il est exact aussi que la forme de la Folie d’Oxford est très largement plus élaborée que celle de la Folie de Berne. Mais pour apprécier cela il faut remonter dans le texte original et c’est bien là la qualité première de ce livre : il donne le texte original avec un petit corpus de variations, de notes et un glossaire réduit. Cela permet d’apprécier la poésie des deux folies.

Une dernière remarque est à faire sur ces deux folies. Elle concerne les ascendants de Tristan. Dans la Folie de Berne, Tristan déclare que son père est un morse et sa mère une baleine, que sa sœur est Brunehaut et qu’il propose de l’échanger contre Yseult. Dans la Folie d’Oxford Tristan déclare que sa mère est une baleine, que sa mère nourricière est une tigresse et qu’il propose d’échanger sa sœur non nommée contre Yseult.

Cet ouvrage ne nous dispense pas de lire des traductions mais il est assez surprenant parfois de voir le rendu aléatoire de la syntaxe ancienne en une syntaxe moderne qui me semble assez loin de la réalité du texte original. Le souci de l’élégance l’emporte sur celui de l’exactitude, d’où le caractère indispensable de cet ouvrage.



It is regrettable that the Cold War nazified the Romans and holified the Jews

BEN HUR – 1959

This is a mythic film and yet most of the time considered as a peplum film whereas it is one more film about Christ, about the relations of Jews and Romans in Judea in the first third of the first century of our CE.

The originality is to center the story on two men, a Jew and a Roman who grew up as mates in their childhood but are torn apart by adult age. Ben Hur is a rich Jew and he represents the desire for peace but without any betrayal of his people, community, religion, culture, God. Messala is the top officer of the Roman legions who gets his dream realized, to be the governor of Judea. When Messala comes to Jerusalem to take his post he at once gets in contact with Ben Hur but since he wants Ben Hur to give the names of the rebellious Jews, hence to be an informer, Ben Hur refuses and they become enemies. Due to some accidental event interpreted as an attack on the governor, Messala has Ben Hur sent to the gallows where you only survive one or two years. He has the mother and sister arrested and put in prison in some deep underground cell where they will in four years turn lepers.

For reasons beyond real understanding during a battle the top officer (and consul) of the Roman fleet has Ben Hur on his flagship. When a battle starts all the slaves are chained to their oars. The consul orders Ben Hur not to be chained. The flagship is rammed but Ben Hur is able to overpower the Roman who has the keys to the chains, to unchain the slaves, which will not be of much benefit to them, and then to save the life of the consul twice, in battle and in the wreckage of his flagship. When they are found alive on some floating wooden piece of ship they learn the battle had been a complete victory. It is as victors they come back to Rome. Ben Hur is emancipated, adopted by the Consul and he becomes a horse-race champion for his adoptive father in Rome’s circus. But he decides to go back to Judea before the announced Pontius Pilate arrives there. He wants a vengeance.

That’s when his desire to get avenged is confronted to the horrible situation of his mother and sister who he has difficulty finding because Esther, his freed slave, who met them when they were freed from the dungeons where they had been imprisoned, swears to them not to tell. In the meantime the Arabs Ben Hur had had contact with when coming back to Judea try to use him to get even, peacefully, with Messala. One of them has a team of horses and Ben Hur accepts to drive in the circus them against Messala who is a vicious driver. But of course Ben Hur will win and Messala will die after a very serious accident during the race. That’s how and from him Ben Hur learns about the fate of his mother and sister, on dying Messala’s deathbed. He finds them and retrieves them out of the valley where all lepers are kept. With the help of Esther he brings them out back to Jerusalem and that’s when Jesus’ passion crosses Ben Hur’s story. He and Esther arrives in Jerusalem on the very hour when Jesus is walked carrying his cross to Golgotha.

He recognizes Jesus as the man who had given him water when he was taken to the gallows, water without which he would have died before reaching the gallows. He tries to do the same on this way of the cross but he is pushed back by the Roman soldiers. Then we experience the crucifixion from afar since Ben Hur and Esther are taking care of Ben Hur’s mother and sister: they take them to their old home. They then live the eclipse and the storm on their way home and the rain produces the miracles we all expected: the mother and the sister are healed.

This old film made in 1959 is a typical un-historical saga about Jesus and the Jews in Judea. The film over-charges the Romans. The Jews are shown absolutely pure and clean, and their violence is nothing but patriotism and it is never shown. We see them having perfect relations with the Arabs, the Semitic people around them who are not Jews and are at best their servants and most of the time their slaves, like Esther. Actually the limit between Jews and Arabs, servants and slaves is not always very clear. The objective is to show the Romans as tyrants, violent dictators, and even their saluting gesture looks like Hitler’s. The Romans are depicted as fascists in all possible ways. The Jews are their victims, enslaved on their land or deported to die working because “ARBEIT MACHT FREI” as the famous motto said.

The film is well acted, the scenery is often beautiful and impressive, the mass of people in Jerusalem or Rome is enormous, the reconstructions of Rome and Jerusalem are brilliant and finally the circuses are outstanding. But the systematic nazification of the Romans and total vindication of the Jews living in perfect harmony with the Arabs, even when these Arabs are their slaves is un-historical if not anti-historical. The good critics are going to tell me that this is only a film for entertainment. But Hollywood knows better. The entertainment the film is bringing is nothing but a means to develop and impose a clear ideological if not political message. The fact that the Roman legions are always dressed in red is maybe historically true but it is also in perfect unison with the standard campaigns against the “Reds” in the 1950s, at the heart and core of the Cold War.


Thursday, November 27, 2014


Tous les antismes raciaux les plus dangereux en un seul cocktail.


Bienvenue dans le monde des croisements entre Juifs, Gitans et Algériens de la deuxième génération.

Une ancienne opération immobilière qui aurait du être juteuse à Toulon tourne mal parce que l’un des deux associés juifs prend l’initiative d’envoyer les bulldozers contre le campement gitan installé illégalement sur le terrain. Cet associé juif sera liquidé par son propre associé pour pouvoir récupérer la paix avec les Gitans.

Mais vingt ou trente ans plus tard le fils le plus jeune de la famille juive (ils sont cinq fils) qui a réchappé miraculeusement à l’accident de voiture manipulé qui a coûté la vie à son père, apprend la vérité et décide de se venger des Gitans qui avaient négocié la mort de son père avec l’associé de ce père. Sa vengeance est un un braque qui tourne mal, très mal même puisque deux flics sont tués. Cela se passait à Marseille.

Les quatre autres frères et la mère sont à Paris et le frère qui vient de causer la mort de deux flics monte vers eux après avoir liquidé l’argent du braque dans une filière de blanchiment car il était doublement sale : de l’argent issu des trafics gitans, donc mal acquis, et de plus mal acquis à nouveau par son nouveau détenteur.

Les frères décident de liquider la bande de Gitans menée par le fils du chef de la bande de Toulon du temps de leur père pour pouvoir libérer le frère qu’ils ont enlevé et c’est à quatre donc qu’ils le font. Les armes sont procurées auprès d’un marché noir islamiste, ce qui va de soi pour des Juifs. Ils tueront tous les Gitans, récupèreront leur frère enlevé, mais le frère amateur braqueur mourra sur le terrain. Il s’appelait David, le bien nommé, mais le Gitan « Goliath » a eu sa carotide avec une balle perdue.

Les flics arrivent sur ces entrefaites et la flic en chef, maghrébine de deuxième génération accepte de couvrir le carnage, surtout qu’elle avait la bande dans le collimateur et que le frère tueur de flics est mort. Inch Allah !

L’associé véreux qui avait vendu le père arrive alors à la veillée mortuaire du frère cadet. Il est chassé comme un malpropre, confronté à la vérité enfin connue de tous, et qu’il s’estime heureux car il est vivant quand il sort. Il se pendra peu de temps après et la mère mourra en tenant un an plus tard le bouton de manchette que son mari n’avait pas réussi à trouvé le matin de sa mort et que les frères ont récupéré d’une façon ou d’une autre car dans ce bas monde, rien ne se perd, tout se monnaye.

Cette mort de la mère est symbolique du passage de l’histoire, qui revient avec un goût de sang, à la légende  que l’on racontera aux arrière petits-enfants.

L’histoire – et cela est aussi juif que gitan, et on me dit qu’il en est de même des Maghrébins ou plus généralement des Arabes et même d’une bonne partie des Musulmans – ne se clôt que par le sang et la mort. Seule la mort enterre le passé. Un film particulièrement pas optimiste et qui peut d’une certaine façon nourrir les racismes anti-juifs, anti-gitans et anti-maghrébins. Arcady aurait pu mieux faire.



Tristan et Iseut, un récit mythologique

Si vous aimez le cochon, vous serez gâté et vous apprendrez que l'amour n'est que cochon et truie, mais on vous apprendra aussi que le cochon est un animal divin, de l'autre côté de la barrière du réel. Ne parlons pas de la truie puisqu'elle est l'entremetteuse entre l'homme et la salvation suprême. Ah le péché originel, revu et corrigé à la graisse de saindoux, de sein-coux, de saint doux.


Etrangément, cette édition sous une autorité religieuse efface les nejeux religieux de l'histoire


Cet ouvrage mérite beaucoup d’attention car il se veut une alternative à la version de Joseph Bédier de 1900. On remarque d’abord qu’il utilise volontiers des tournures linguistiques archaïques qui veulent nous faire voyager vers le passé. Peut-être qu’en 1958 et parmi les élèves du secondaire qui était visés (mon exemplaire a servi de « Prix de Tableau d’Honneur » en 1963) cela avait cet effet mais l’abus des passés simples, surtout en première et deuxième personnes du pluriel, sans compter les imparfaits du subjonctifs sont devenus aujourd’hui franchement lourds et peu élégants.

Le texte est marqué d’une très forte référence religieuse, non pas ancienne mais présente comme dans la conclusion :

« Ainsi ils demeurèrent ensemble jusqu’à ce que Dieu voulut les prendre avec lui. Puisse-t-il faire ainsi de nous ! Ainsi soit-il ! »

Cette remontée de la référence religieuse ancienne et donc justifiée en ce temps ancien, jusqu’au temps présent et jusqu’au lecteur moderne est un peu irritante car on sait que ce ne peut pas être dans le texte original et si cela l’était le sens est complètement différent aujourd’hui pour un lecteur d’aujourd’hui.

De la même façon la référence à la courtoisie, à l’amour courtois, à la chevalerie, à l’honneur est partout présente mais le plus souvent en situation de mensonge. Le conte devient alors une sorte de plaidoyer mensonger pour couvrir ce qui n’est qu’un adultère, un pêché fondamental que rien n’excuse. On comprendra pourquoi la scène du moine Ogrin est réduite au minimum puisque c’est lui qui dénonce cette hypocrisie du prétendu philtre comme excuse du crime, car, et cela est répété mais comme une circonstance qu’il s’agit de balayer d’un coup de main, l’adultère est un crime fondamental dans la société féodale et mérite la mort. Deux seules formes d’adultère sont féodalement acceptées : d’une part le droit de cuissage des nobles et chevaliers sur les serfs et autres gens du commun ; d’autre part le même droit d’un suzerain à l’égard d’un vassal et de son épouse qu’il visite et qui le reçoit chez lui. Quand le suzerain était le roi et qu’un enfant en descendait la baronnie alors pouvait mettre sur ses armes le bandeau rouge de bâtardise royale. Le plus bel exemple est le Vicomte Henri de Turenne qui en tant que Baron d’Olliergues bénéficiait de ce privilège qui lui permit d’être enterré dans la Basilique Saint Denis, le sépulcre des rois de France, parce qu’au Moyen Âge, un roi de France est passé et a laissé un enfant à la Baronne d’Olliergues qui ets lui-même devenu Baron d’Olliergues.

La scène « Sous le Laurier », le roi dans l’arbre et les amants dessous, est un ramassis de mensonges de ce genre qui sont autant de pêchés mortels :

« Je vous aime, c’est vrai ; je vous aimerai toute ma vie, comme bonne dame peut aimer un chevalier prudhomme, selon Dieu et selon l’honneur de son mari. Dieu le sait bien, et vous-même le savez, comment je vous ai aimé selon Dieu ; car jamais vous n’avez commis le pêché avec moi, ni moi avec vous. »

Le mensonge n’est là que pour flouer le roi mais il aggrave encore le cas de ces deux pêcheurs qui sont devenus des pêcheurs invétérés.

Cette version contient des originalités. Le Morhoult, l’oncle d’Iseut la Blonde, le frère de la reine d’Irlande est bien tué par Tristan qui en est empoisonné par une blessure d’une arme justement empoisonnée. Cela semble surprenant dans des combats de chevaliers, mais j’imagine que certains se permettaient des moyens un peu contournés pour gagner tout en perdant. Tristan se retrouve en Irlande, sous un faux nom. Il est guéri une première fois par Iseut. Il enchaine avec l’affaire du dragon. Il est guéri une deuxième fois par Iseut mais c’est la mère d’Iseut, elle aussi appelée Iseut, qui découvre l’épée ébréchée. Elle exige la mort et le roi d’Irlande, son mari, la refuse mais expulse Tristan.

Mais voilà que le roi Marc de Cornouailles, sur le rapport de Tristan, tombe amoureux de la beauté d’Iseut, bien sûr malgré la différence de vingt ans ou plus, mais Iseut avait été promise au Morhoult qui lui-même avait cet avantage d’être bien plus vieux qu’Iseut. Il est étrange que les divers conteurs n’insistent jamais sur ce simple fait que Tristan et Iseut ont 14 ou 15 ans alors que les maris promis à Iseut sont plutôt aux alentours de 35 ou 40. En ces temps-là la femme était mariable à 13 ans (jusqu’au 18ème siècle en Angleterre où une loi de ce 18ème siècle rappela cet âge minimum) et elle n’avait pas le choix de son mari qui pouvait naturellement être bien plus vieux qu’elle. Il semble qu’il faudra attendre Jean Cocteau et Jean Delannoy pour mettre ce fait en avant.

Tristan doit alors repartir en Irlande mais il passe avec sa compagnie de chevaliers par la cour du Roi Arthur pour se faire certifiés chevaliers arthuriens et donc être acceptés en Irlande. Originalité : Tristan aime Iseut depuis le début mais sacrifie son amour à son devoir envers son oncle. Le philtre est par inadvertance servi par Brangien et Gouvernal ensemble aux deux jeunes gens (d’où leur petit complot de mettre Brangien à la place d’Iseut le soir des noces pour que Marc ne se doute de rien car Iseut est immédiatement après le philtre dépucelée). On peut se demander si une telle erreur par deux personnes responsables n’est pas voulue.

Cette version ensuite simplifie monumentalement l’histoire en supprimant le nain espion, en supprimant les trois barons félons et en n’en gardant que le quatrième marginal dans les autres versions, à savoir Audret. Dans la forêt de Morois où les amants se réfugient ils vivent dans un château, sorte de gentilhommière construite par quelque chevalier amoureux de sa belle et connue sous le nom de « La Maison de la Sage Demoiselle ». Un jour de chasse, le roi Marc apprend de gamins errants dans la forêt, des apprentis braconniers probablement, le pot aux roses et il saisit Iseut seule en l’absence de Tristan. Pas de gants d’hermine, pas d’épée entre les amants endormis et habillés, pas d’échange de l’épée, pas d’échange de la bague. Simple réappropriation de la dame par le roi, car la dame est sa simple propriété.

La condamnation à l’immolation et la fuite est réduite à très peu de choses. La reine Iseut finit prisonnière du Roi Marc avec une allusion très rapide au Roi Arthur et au Jugement de Dieu auquel Iseut s’est supposément soumise. Cette version compte quatre Iseut : Iseut la reine d’Irlande et la mère d’Iseut la Blonde, puis Iseut aux Blanches Mains, ou Iseut la Bretonne, avec en plus la fille de Genès, un forestier et/ou garde chasse d’Iseut aux Blanches Mains, fille qui est la pupille de Tristan mais aussi appelée Iseut.

La folie est réduite à très peu de choses et le moine, comme je l’ai dit, a été pratiquement supprimé et donc la confession de Tristan et Iseut avec lui.

Quelle interprétation peut-on donner à cette version. Le mensonge est cultivé tout du long. L’amour charnel est immédiat après l’absorption du philtre et, jusqu’au dernier moment, dans le bref de Tristan à son oncle après sa mort il est dit et asserté :

« Ce n’est pas ma faute si j’ai aimé Iseut puisque je l’ai fait par force. »

On notera qu’ici dans ce bref, Tristan réduit la faute à n’être que celle de Brangien, et donc Gouvernal est blanchi. Mais c’est l’archevêque lui-même qui lit le bref et ensuite enterre les deux amants sans aucune confession et donc sans absolution. Ils n’ont même pas eu d’extrême onction. En d’autres termes cette fin est absolument iconoclaste car elle magnifie avec la ronce qu’on appelle « miracle » les pêchés mortels de luxure et de mensonge. Tout le contexte religieux de l’époque du Moyen Âge est nié et on ne peut en rien dire si cette histoire est en fait la remise en cause ou non des pratiques de non respect d’aucun droit concernant les femmes. On a ici une version expurgée d’un conte romantique qui justifie toutes les fautes et les trahisons par le seul amour pourtant causé par le viagra du philtre qu’on leur a servi dans leur plus grande ignorance. Le pêché est-il dans l’intention ou dans l’acte ? Ici de toute façon l’amour justifie tout, même si c’est un amour artificiel. Il est vrai qu’au début une allusion a été faite à l’amour de Tristan pour Iseut mais suivie de son acceptation de son devoir d’honneur de chevalier de l’amener à celui à qui elle était promise. Mais cela est bien léger et l’honneur du chevalier est une sorte de cache-misère.

La modernisation de cette histoire absolument mythique me semble un peu superficielle.


Thursday, November 20, 2014


The undead who was not a living dead is back to life


We had been waiting for that return of Lestat in glory and fame for many years indeed, since 2003. We of course know about the two films adapted from the Vampire Chronicles, “Interview with The Vampire” in 1994 and “The Queen of the Damned” in 2002, which were quite short as compared to the eleven volumes published in 2002, and twelve in 2003. What went wrong? It is said that Anne Rice signed a bad contract for these adaptations selling the character, Lestat de Lioncourt, along with the adaptation rights to a bad “partner.” That blocked her absolutely for the whole series of books because she could not negotiate other contracts for the other volumes, in spite of the rather poor use of this contract by the person or firm that bought the rights. Luckily this contract has a limited duration and that duration must have come to an end. The rights must have gone back to the author, Anne Rice.

She can then start the whole business all over again. But in the meantime the vampire stage has changed tremendously. Anne Rice is the author who managed to finally give some positive image of vampires, after and along with witches, in literature and her books became extremely popular. Due to the bad adaptation contract and the bad partner she took in this adventure, the vampire stage was left totally empty for cinema and television, particularly television, where numerous series were produced in the US and in Great Britain, with vampires, but also werewolves and ghosts as their main characters along the similar line of a society that is trying to live and organize itself independently from the human world, next to it, parallel to it. We all know these series that became films conjugating diaries and other academies or even attempts at being human. It was too often nothing but some schematic fan-fiction based on Anne Rice’s work.

So, after a long absence of Lestat de Lioncourt from the vampire stage, even longer that ten years because the last three volumes of the “series” are in fact not part of the Vampire Chronicles per say since they are bringing together the Mayfair witches from an other line of creation and some side characters of the vampire world in the absence of Lestat de Lioncourt, after this long absence was I saying Lestat de Lioncourt has to reintroduce himself and re-knit the various threads together and re-fill the enormous gap and put his imitators back in their side-track place. Anne Rice does that marvelously by bringing all her main campire characters, and even some of the not so mainstream ones, into the picture, into the modern world of 2013. This is a great attempt though it is also slightly disturbing for the reader because of the great number of characters. Luckily Anne Rice gives us the nearly full list of the characters in the book, and the list is long: forty eight names, in fact more than that as for names since some have up to three names, and the twin sisters are under one entry only instead of two. But after a while we get up to that vast population and we do not have to check every single one character every single five minutes.

At the same time she has to bring to an end a line that was started with the very first novel in the series. The first three volumes that saw the re-emergence of Queen Akasha and her death with the transmission of the core to Mekare, one of the two twin witches who was extremely handicapped physically and mentally, so that this core, the spirit Amel, had to become dissatisfied and rowdy. The present volume is the story of how this core, this spirit Amel, is transferred from Mekare to, and that is no secret from the very start because of the title, Lestat himself. This transfer of this spirit from a vegetative body to an extremely active character is a radical turning point in the timeline of the story. It becomes a new start and Anne Rice can take her revenge on those authors who exploited her line of business in her absence. It is no mystery that Lestat was the reviver of the vampire world and that he brought the revival within a radical change: vampires are a tribe, an organized society. So it is justice he becomes the Prince of this world.

If Prince he is supposed to become after having been the brat prince for so many years, he has to bring to this society a civilizing and acculturating project that will transform the vampire world into a democratic constitutional monarchy on the joint model of the USA and Great Britain. This point being reached the series can start again and many more volumes will be able to be published if Anne Rice does not waste too much energy on older projects like the pornographic adventures of Beauty, or minor adventures like the life of Jesus. She has opened a gate that could bring together vampires, witches and ghosts. She can add werewolves maybe from her new line of fiction or even some of her free lance angels and their other recent line of fiction of hers. She obviously follows the line of the British series “Being Human” that merges vampires, werewolves and ghosts together, and she at the same time gets down to the task of making these vampires lovable and tremendously attractive by their ethical approach of their preying nature: be the cleansers of society and destroy all the evil doers. Her werewolves are going the same way.

That obsession of an ethical orientation, which is if I can say so the sexual orientation of these vampires and their fellow werewolves, since they cannot have any sexual impulse, drive or satisfaction, is in a way a good idea but also a limit, though it will enter in conflict with many other elements and quite a few vampires or werewolves will not be able to abide by it, creating conflicts and dramatic situations. There is a lot of work on Anne Rice’s writing desk indeed.

But it is interesting to see the ideological orientation Anne Rice advocates in this new volume. She has pushed aside the Catholic approach of things very systematically, even to the point of not referring to any church (except Sainte Chapelle in Paris which is nothing but a touristic attraction), I mean the building called a church, nor any religious art, any religious reference. Lestat de Lioncourt goes back to his native Auvergne where he has his father’s castle rebuilt and there is no mention of the chapel that had to have been in this castle. In fact Anne Rice becomes very fuzzy as for details with this move. In Auvergne all castles were “nationalized” and quite a few burnt down to their foundations by the French Revolution. The few castles that have not been completely destroyed either are public property, or very strictly controlled as heritage, be they private or public. That means those that have been damaged by the revolution of time cannot be rebuilt at all. I do not know one case in Auvergne of such a castle that would have been entirely rebuilt. The only castles that are in full proper shape are not from the Middle Ages, but from the nineteenth century, like the Royal castle of Randan. One exception is the castle of Ravel, because it was not damaged at all by the Revolution because Admiral d’Estaing, the partner of La Fayette in the war of Independence of the USA, had entirely freed his serves and redistributed his land, hence abandoned all his feudal privileges, before the revolution.

Same story in Chavaniac Lafayette where Lafayette’s castle is in perfect state and was not damaged by the revolution for the very same reason. All other castles I know have been damaged by the revolution and by time and are just starting to be renovated which means consolidated for security but not rebuilt, at least so far, because of heritage rules.

So I do not see how an old castle of that type could be rebuilt by someone who cannot claim he is a descendant of the old feudal baron, especially since anyway this castle was either made public, hence is unsellable, or sold out to some private interests, at times like abbeys, among several public or private buyers, like the abbey of La Chaise-Dieu or of Mauriac. Anne Rice had had given us the habit of being a lot more precise on such details. That sounds slightly sloppy and disrespectful for the country concerned.

Along that line, and for the first time ever, she uses some unacceptable grammar. I guess she would not say an American citizen was born in THE Mississippi, though she very easily says that Lestat de Lioncourt was born in THE Auvergne. Luckily this administrative unit is not a river, otherwise it would be a very wet birth. But Ø Auvergne has never been anything else but an administrative unit, hence it does not require to use an article. She is right to say THE Massif Central since this is a geological unit, but Auvergne is not. It used to be a dukedom (Capital Montferrand) and in a way an archdiocese (sea Clermont), an ecclesiastical unit, but never a geological unit. It is part of THE Massif Central but it is geologically a mountain alluvial plain, part of a volcanic chain and part of two very old crystalline mountain ranges. In other words it is a crisscross of geological elements brought together to build some kind of a military and administrative unit that controlled in the very old days of the Roman Empire and afterwards an enormous chunk of THE eastern Massif Central.

But she makes other grammatical mistakes when dealing with France. She systematically uses articles in front of street names, which is absurd in English. There is only one street in London that uses the article THE in oral usage, THE Strand. But she produces THE Champs Elysées which is wrong. It is one of the rare streets in French that uses an article. So she should use French grammar and say LES Champs Elysées because the article is part of the name, or she should use English grammar and then say Ø Champs Elysées without an article. But she even produces THE Marais for a neighborhood in Paris, as if in London with would speak of THE Chelsea and in New York of THE Harlem. When an article is used it is an exception justified historically like THE Bronx or grammatically like THE Isle of Man or THE Isle of Wight, but Ø Manhattan does not require an article. So then we have THE Café Cassette, THE Rue de Rennes, even worse THE Pompidou for Ø Pompidou Center without an article, also known as Ø Beaubourg without an article, though we could maybe consider museums require an article and maybe THE Louvre could be justified since we would say The National Gallery, THE MET, THE Tate Gallery, and yet Covent Garden without an article but this is an opera house and not a museum.

The case of THE Café Cassette is also slightly complex because it is a bar. We would not use an article with shops like Harrods, Foyles, or as for that many other public buildings like Victoria Station or Grand Central Station. But it is true we will say: to go to THE pub, to go to THE Harp, THE Porterhouse, THE Princess Louise, but we would go to Ø Cross Keys and Ø Punch and Judy. Yet the one I prefer is “Welcome to Ø Holy Cow fine Indian food, Ø Holy Cow's quality, refined, creative dishes.” I would certainly not say THE Buckingham Palace or THE Hyde Park, nor THE Scotland Yard, though I will say THE Monument (which is an exception). I would also say THE White House which seems to be an exception too, along with some monuments here and there (The Washington Monument but The Lincoln Memorial). So I would say either LES Tuileries or Ø Tuileries without an article since it is nothing but a public garden like Hyde Park and Green Park.

Anne Rice could also have asked Google to check her French spelling of “Sainte Chappelle” that she uses without an article, and that’s a good point since we all know Westminster Abbey, but it only takes ONE /p/, in fact the same as in English as for the number of /p/s.

Anne Rice has always been very scrupulous on research and language when dealing with Louisiana or New Orleans, with California and San Francisco. Why is she that sloppy with France? She would not go to THE lake Tahoe, drive her car on THE Russell Boulevard in Davis, and she would say concerning Los Angeles THE plaza, but Ø Pershing Square, Ø Elysian Park, Ø Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, THE Los Angeles Maritime Museum, THE Banning Residence Museum, THE Fort MacArthur Military Museum but Ø Drum Barracks Civil War Museum and Ø Travel Town in Ø Griffith Park ( Maybe she should invest on a French speaking proof-reader who would know modern usage and not the old Dickensian rule (Charles Dickens died in 1870) that all foreign place names were supposed to be introduced by a definite article. Even Stevenson (Robert Louis Stevenson died in 1894) knew that he could travel in Ø Lozère but cross THE Lozère only if he could find a bridge or a ford.


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