Wednesday, September 15, 2004

French culture

The French now have a translation of the 9/11 Commission report, according to Le Figaro.

Monday evening (13 Sep), TV had an interview with an Iranian woman Chahdortt Djavann, author of Que pense Allah de l'Europe ? She seems to be a militant laïciste, strongly opposed to le voile, seeing it as a flag of the islamists. I'm still not convinced that women who wear it are forced to, or that it's the role of the French state to force them not to wear it. Review here (fairelejour - pour la défense des libertés).

I could also have seen a French version (warning :big pdf) of The Hamburg Cell, if I hadn't gone out for a meal. This was on Channel 4 a couple of weeks ago (recorded but not yet seen it).

Back to those 2 books, they were both on sale at a quite good bookshop at Charles de Gaulle airport (T2) - nice to see a section entitled essais. I didn't buy either, but was more tempted by Qui a tué Daniel Pearl ? (20 Euros) or even by a pocket-sized copy of Racine's Phèdre (2.30). I remember trying to find one of those after a BBC Radio 3 broadcast in summer 2000 of a version of it translated into modern American by Paul Schmidt. I can't analyze why that play made such an impact on me. Maybe it was just the brilliance of the rendering into contemporary language, but it seemed like a new play in its own right, though it followed the structure of the French play quite closely. Racine's play is based on Euripides' Hippolytus and some scenes are an almost exact copy. Maybe it just innoculated me a bit against the anti-Americanism that seems to have become an intellectual near-orthodoxy in the last 3 years.

In the end, I didn't buy anything, deciding that I needed not something else to read, but a congenial place to read all the other things on my 'laptop' (including the 9/11 Commission report in English) . I forgot there was a bar near the departure gate. By the time I got there, it was only 20 minutes before boarding time. Still, I've got both Le Figaro and Le Monde to read. Le Monde Économique is a real treat to look forward to. This time they've got a look at the complexities of the 35-hour week. This is the kind of in-depth analysis of economic and social issues that we seem to get less and less of in our so-called liberal/left papers like The Guardian and The Independent, even less so now that they are so preoccupied with their anti-Iraq war agenda.

Correction : it's Le Monde Économie, stupid.

a French version of The Hamburg Cell,

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