Thursday, November 26, 2020


Learning French

Clive James (1939-2019), "Sainte-Beuve," Cultural Amnesia (2007; rpt. London: Picador, 2012), pp. 658-663 (at 658-659):
Read today, his volumes of weekly pieces are still a good way of building up strength in one's reading of French, because even when the subject was ephemeral he gave it permanence with his registration of contemporary detail, so the reader is usefully driven to the dictionary and the Larousse. (The presence of that latter volume on your desk is a sure sign that you are on the right track.)
Id. (at 660-661):
At one stage I read all the way through the collected Causeries du lundi columns in a bunch of disintegrating paperbacks I bought from a bouquiniste on the Left Bank. With torn and faded yellow wrappers thinner than their pages, the books were sadly battered little bundles that fell open anywhere and eventually fell apart. It was one of the ways I learned French: a lundi a day, underline every word you don't know, keep going for as long as you get the sense, look up the hard words afterwards.

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