Tuesday, March 9, 2010

It's a small world after all...

I hope the title doesn't get that song stuck in anyone's head. In fact, the only reason I wrote it was because of what happened in my Paris 8 literature class today. At the end of class (after talking about the Notre-Dame de Paris visit) Naina, MaryAnn and I went to give the professor our "fiches pedagogiques." He looked at mine and said: "You're a Johns Hopkins student? Do you know Jacques Neefs?" I said, "Yes. He was my professor last semester." This professor said: "He's my good friend!" I wonder if he knows Jacques Roubaud too! Then again, the real question is: do either of them know George Steiner?

Other than that, today wasn't super interesting. After the course, I came back here, edited articles for the newspaper, practiced my flute, avoided reading my history chapter (which I am reluctantly doing between sentences on this blog right now...), had dinner, watched the news, and here we are. So...

Act V: 15 years later, Roxane is in a convent in constant grief with "Christian's" last letter always at her breast (covered in Cyrano's tears and Christian's blood) and Cyrano visits her often. But, at the end, all of Cyrano's enemies seemed to want him gone, so they tried to kill him and make it look like an accident. Due to Cyrano's obsession with his cousin, even though he had been told that he would die if he got up, he went over to see Roxane anyway. Everyone else realized he was dying, but Roxane (the genius that she is - you know, with poetry and everything) couldn't figure it out even after he fainted while telling her the news. Finally, he asks Roxane if he can read the letter, and she reluctantly agrees. He begins to read and she is amazed at how well he reads this letter. Then, it's suddenly night time and too dark to read, but Cyrano continues to recite the letter anyway because he wrote it after all, and Roxane finally realizes that it was Cyrano who wrote it. Then, she says what is possibly the most beautiful line ever: "Je n'aimais qu'un seul être et je le perds deux fois !" (I only loved one man and I lost him twice). Cyrano picks up his sword, sees all of his enemies and ends the play by saying that he never lost his panache. By the way, apparently this play is credited with introducing the word panache to the English language. Interesting - it's like we talked about in the ENS course, how translation of literature into other languages changes the literary history of that second language. They had said that the French translation of Nietzsche changed the French literary history. It's cool to see that the translation of Cyrano de Bergerac changed the English one. Too bad French literature couldn't have influenced Jane Austen a little - that lady had no idea how to write an interesting story like the French. Same with the Bronte's. And on that note, history!

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