Hello and welcome back to Top 5 Wednesday, the top 5 feature whereby I pick five books or book related things based on a particular topic.
I’m still coming up with my own or past/future topic ideas and the one I fancied working on for today’s post is Books in Translation.
There are a few ways I can work this topic but the one I want to go for is books I’ve read in their traditional language. For me personally, all these books will be in French. It’s the only other language besides English that I can read in as I’m not proficient enough in either Spanish or Italian, and BSL is more of a visual language.
So with that out of the way, let’s get started.
Aliocha by Henri Troyat
I read and studied this book for my French A-Level and I’m really glad I did because it proves to me that there are French books out there that I do like and can re-read multiple times. This book follows a young boy whose parents emigrated to Paris, France to escape the Russian Revolution. He is permanently stuck between his parents’ Russian ideals and desires to return to Russia and wanting to belong in France, and he only starts feeling comfortable when he makes friends with a lonely classmate (whose name I’ve forgotten) who introduces Aliocha to literature and the power of friendship. This book has a lot going on culturally and historically, but it is the heart of the friendship and the themes of identity and belonging that really touch me, and that make me want to re-read it when I’m in the mood. It’s just a beautiful book, even with its heartbreaking ending.
Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry
Arguably the most famous book of all French literature. I can’t remember when I first read this but my uncle gifted me a copy one Christmas and it captivated my attention instantly. I know I was a little thrown by the metaphorical nature of this book but it was enchanting and delightful. I have since read an English translation of it but if I want to reread it again, I’ll just go back to the original French because no other language edition will capture that wondrous, poetic writing in the same way. It’s also really short which is a huge bonus when I’ve not read any French for a while and I fancy reading something to keep my fluency level from dropping lower than it already is.
Songe à la Douceur by Clémentine Beauvais
The only YA Title on this list and some people might know this book more for its English title “In Paris With You” which was released last year. Saying that, I don’t think it got the popularity and hype it deserved. I also only discovered it because of YALC and without YALC, I think this book would have completely bypassed my radar. It is a YA Contemporary Romance, written in verse, that also spans two different timelines. There is a lot going on and thankfully it works. I want to try reading this again because I will come out and honestly admit that I gave up reading the French text and picked up the English translation instead. It was a dream to read and I loved it, but I know from the author that there were some contextual subtleties that didn’t translate and had to be changed so I want to see if I can pick them up when I read it again.
Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan
A relatively short book that caused quite a scandal on publication in 1954, portraying a teenager who rejects conventional notions of love and marriage, who wants sexual freedom of her own choosing. This book follows father and daughter, Cecile and Raymond who live on the French Riviera. They dedicate themselves to a life of freedom, luxury, free love, hedonistic pleasures etc until one day Raymond decides to marry and Cecile, along with her lover Cyril, feel compelled to have a hand in his amours, with tragic consequences.
This is not usually my cup of tea at all and I only read it because one of my French teachers at school used to loan out some of her French books for a select few of us to read. I can’t remember if I liked it or not but I definitely remember it being an interesting read and one I read particularly quickly,
Les Plus Belles Pages de la Poésie Française
I haven’t read every single poem in this book but I’ve read quite a few of them and I like it because it is an easy book to dip in and out of when I feel like reading just a little bit of French. There are some huge French names in here that I know, for example, Charles Baudelaire, Jean Racine, Voltaire, Victor Hugo, and André Breton but there are other writers I’m not familiar with and it’s nice to get an insight into their writing. What I also like about this book is the variation of poets from different eras. There’s a pick of poets from The Middle Ages all the way to the Twentieth Century, and I find it interesting looking at the varying linguistic styles in form and writing as well as subjects from across the ages. It reminds me of certain areas I studied at university and rather enjoyed.
And there we have it. Five books I’ve read in French.
Besides English, do you read in any other languages?
As always. thanks for reading and have a brazzle dazzle day!