Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Romance vs. Realism

My assignment for my weekly French lesson is to write something on a subject of my teacher's choosing.  This week's subject, for example, is les étoiles - stars.  I've interpreted the assignment to mean that the page and a half I write has to have that subject mentioned, from being a subject to be addressed en passant.

When I started I wrote an essay each week, because essays are what I could write.  Then I deviated and started writing a police procedural, called in French un polar.  After 60 or so chapters - each week was another page and a half chapter - I wrapped it up in a final scene and someone in jail, but then I still had my weekly assignments, I had my characters, and what to do?

It seems that my polar has turned into more of a light-hearted somewhat romantic novel, darting here and there, seeking to interest Claude, my teacher, and to make her laugh.  So far I've been successful - she looks forward to each week's installment!  I love having someone to write for!  The errors I make in French composition?  They are many, but what does one expect from an intermediate French student?  I think I'm getting a little better with my French.  I think.

 At the same time I've been reading the 19th and early 20th century French novelists, realists and modernists and post-modernists.  Candide, Madame Bovary, The Red and the Black, Maupassant, The Immoralist, modern short stories, and of course L'Étranger. I've loved reading all of them, and I've loved writing my pseudo-novel.

My conclusion: who wants real life?  You get enough of that in real life.

Budd Shenkin

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