Monday, September 14, 2009

Les Cahiers Parisiens de C.L. Minou: un dimanche de feminisme

So yesterday I managed to do a few feminist things while here in Paris--both homages, of a sort.

First, I visited Père-Lachaise, the largest cemetery in Paris and a convenient ten-minute walk from the apartment. I didn't stay long, just long enough to visit the tomb of Heloise and Abelard, the great medieval lovers and philosophers.

After that (and after a quick café au lait--my exchange mate doesn't drink coffee, it seems, and I'm in a caffeine deficiency from trying to make do with tea), I dropped by Violette and Co., a feminist/LGBT bookstore in the arrondissement. I picked up a new copy of Le Deuxième Sexe, volume I--I somehow managed to lose the copy I bought last year--and a book called Je suis pas feministe, mais... ("I'm not a feminist, but..."), mostly because I have a book in English with the same title. They're very different books--the French one is a collection of pointed cartoons, the English one a collection of feminist facts aimed at consciousness raising (i.e., if you believe/know all these things, you really are a feminist.) The cartoons are interesting to me beyond their humor (which I mostly get) because they reproduce spoken French, a very different thing from written French or even the French they teach you at school.

On that note (and of interest to nobody besides myself), I'm doing better with my French than ever--I even attempted to use the subjunctive while talking to the clerk at Violette's. (We also discussed, unbelievably enough, the fact that a) the only translation of The Second Sex into English was, as I said, absolument merde, and b) there's a new one coming, thank goodness.) In any case, it's a relief to me, as one of my quirks is that I actually like to speak French, even if I'm not very good at it.

Today, I'm off to the Louvre--my exchange mate got me a ticket to the premiere of a Titian/Tintoretto show. Tomorrow, I'm going to try aikido Paris-style.


  1. hey, I will be traveling to Paris tomorrow, so thanks for the tip about Violette and Co!!

  2. Bon, Vertigo! They were very nice, and they have regular readings and things!

  3. Learning French has been on my to-do list for ages. Learning French by immersion by visiting Paris is going on the top of my to-do list, I tell you what!

    Violette and Co. - what an awesome name for a bookstore. And reading Le Deuxième Sexe sans translation has got to be what the young ones call da bomb. (Do they still call it da bomb?)

    Aw, hell, Paris is da bomb from start to finish. Tell us all about Aikido Parisienne. If that is how you say it in French.

  4. @Spatula: this is how you read Le Deuxieme Sexe sans translation, if you are equipped with my French:

    1) Open the book. Note how painfully few pages deep you are.

    2)Start reading. Underline a word and look it up.

    3) Repeat step 2.

    4) Repeat step 2.

    5) Repeat step 2.

    6) Repeat step 2.

    7) Repeat step 2, but this time write it down in the glossary you're keeping in the back of the book because it's a common French word that you always forget.

    8) Start reading the second page. Repeat steps 2-7.

    9) Finish the second page. Fifteen minutes have now gone by.

    10) Finish your copy. Bask for a second in how brilliant a writer de Beauvoir is, even in a language you barely speak. Decide to begin again tomorrow.

    At least I don't have to use a bookmark. I just turn to the last page I haven't marked up with marginal glosses.

  5. Lol a million times. Reading a book in a foreign language is a great way to learn the language, but it also has its pitfalls. I learned a bunch of English from reading the Lord of the Rings, but until I sorted contemporary colloquial vocabulary from archaic, I was getting some very weird looks from people.