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– Eh bien, voilà; après avoir beaucoup travaillé – je parle du travail de l’esprit – après avoir longuement médité et PHILOSOPHÉ, je suis arrivé à la conclusion irréfutable que le seul bonheur possible c’est d’être un homme de la Nature. J’ai besoin d’air, j’ai besoin d’espace pour que ma pensée se cristallise. Je ne m’intéresse plus qu’à ce qui est vrai, sincère, pur, large, en un seul mot, l’AUTHENTIQUE, et je suis venu ici pour cultiver l’AUTHENTIQUE. J’espère que vous me comprenez?

– Oui, dit Ugolin. Évidemment.

– Je veux vivre en communion avec la Nature. Je veux manger les légumes de mon jardin, l’huile de mes olives, gober les oeufs frais de mes poules, m’enivrer du seul vin de ma vigne, et dès que ce sera possible, manger le pain que je ferai avec mon blé.


“Well, well, here it is; after having worked a lot – I’m talking about the work of the mind – after having meditated and philosophised at length, I arrived at the irrefutable conclusion that the only possible happiness is being a man of Nature. I need air, I need space for my thoughts to crystallise. I’m only interested in what’s true, sincere, pure, broad, in only a word, authentic, and I came here to cultivate the authentic. I hope that you understand me?”

“Yes,” said Ugolin. “Obviously.”

“I want to live in communion with Nature. I want to eat my garden’s vegetables, my olives’ oil, to gulp down my hens’ fresh eggs, to get myself drunk on the only wine of my vineyard, and as soon as possible, to eat the bread that I’ll make with my dough.”

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J’ai aimé la vérité… Où est-elle?… Partout hypocrisie, ou du moins charlatanisme, même chez les plus vertueux, même chez les plus grands.

I loved the truth…Where is it? Hypocrisy everywhere, or at least charlatanism, even among the most virtuous, even among the greatest.

Stendhal (and by proxy Julien Sorel, for maybe the second time in his short life) really hit the nail on the head with this one.

Ugolin and César dressed up nicely for once in their funeral clothes for Pique-Bouffigue

Ugolin and César dressed up nicely for once

Powerful country folk: Hey, we can make more money growing carnations than we can selling crops!

Powerful country folk: …except we live in Provence, which is stupidly dry. Oh well, there’s one guy who’s got a spring on his lands. We’ll try and buy them from him.

Guy with the spring on his lands (Pique-Bouffigue, which literally means “the person who picks blisters”): I don’t want anything to do with you. Get the fuck out!

(They get into a fight. Pique-Bouffigue bumps his head and later dies.)

Powerful country folk: Who’s going to inherit?

(Naive town man arrives.)

Powerful country folk: Let’s starve and drought him off the land.

(Naive town man remains doggedly determined, gets hit by rocks while exploding rock for water – this actually happens – and dies.)

Several years later…

(Younger country guy goes mad and commits suicide, older guy is left all alone as the naive town man’s daughter marries.)

Friend of the older guy: By the way, through a torturous chain of events we never bothered to explain in the last book and now, that naive town man you killed was your son.

Older country guy: OH SHI-*dies*

The end. Now wasn’t that a lovely, happy story?

Seriously, the books and the films are really good, but the more I analyse them the more I think that most of the Bastidiens are selfish and possibly quite inbred bastards…

Firstly, this is my first effort translating from English into French.

Secondly, this poem is by Scherezade Siobhan, who has very kindly given me permission to translate her poems. I only hope I manage to capture her emotions in French as well as she captures them in English.

what borderlines
did you draw
out of your scars
that you become
an immigrant
in your own skin?
quelles limites
as-tu dessinées
de tes cicatrices
pour que tu deviennes
immigrée
dans ta propre peau?
Pouvons-nous étouffer le vieux, le long Remords,
Qui vit, s’agite et se tortille
Et se nourrit de nous comme le ver des morts,
Comme du chêne la chenille?
Pouvons-nous étouffer l’implacable Remords?

Dans quel philtre, dans quel vin, dans quelle tisane,
Noierons-nous ce vieil ennemi,
Destructeur et gourmand comme la courtisane,
Patient comme la fourmi?
Dans quel philtre? — dans quel vin? — dans quelle tisane?

Dis-le, belle sorcière, oh! dis, si tu le sais,
À cet esprit comblé d’angoisse
Et pareil au mourant qu’écrasent les blessés,
Que le sabot du cheval froisse,
Dis-le, belle sorcière, oh! dis, si tu le sais,

À cet agonisant que le loup déjà flaire
Et que surveille le corbeau,
À ce soldat brisé! s’il faut qu’il désespère
D’avoir sa croix et son tombeau;
Ce pauvre agonisant que déjà le loup flaire!

Peut-on illuminer un ciel bourbeux et noir?
Peut-on déchirer des ténèbres
Plus denses que la poix, sans matin et sans soir,
Sans astres, sans éclairs funèbres?
Peut-on illuminer un ciel bourbeux et noir?

L’Espérance qui brille aux carreaux de l’Auberge
Est soufflée, est morte à jamais!
Sans lune et sans rayons, trouver où l’on héberge
Les martyrs d’un chemin mauvais!
Le Diable a tout éteint aux carreaux de l’Auberge!

Adorable sorcière, aimes-tu les damnés?
Dis, connais-tu l’irrémissible?
Connais-tu le Remords, aux traits empoisonnés,
À qui notre cœur sert de cible?
Adorable sorcière, aimes-tu les damnés?

L’Irréparable ronge avec sa dent maudite
Notre âme, piteux monument,
Et souvent il attaque ainsi que le termite,
Par la base le bâtiment.
L’Irréparable ronge avec sa dent maudite!

— J’ai vu parfois, au fond d’un théâtre banal
Qu’enflammait l’orchestre sonore,
Une fée allumer dans un ciel infernal
Une miraculeuse aurore;
J’ai vu parfois au fond d’un théâtre banal

Un être, qui n’était que lumière, or et gaze,
Terrasser l’énorme Satan;
Mais mon cœur, que jamais ne visite l’extase,
Est un théâtre où l’on attend
Toujours, toujours en vain, l’Être aux ailes de gaze!

Can we suffocate old, long Remorse,
Which lives, and shakes, tries to set itself free,
And feeds itself on us like worms on a corpse,
Like the grub on the tree?
Can we suffocate old, long Remorse?

In which philtre, in which wine, in which draught,
Will we drown this old foe?
Destructive and greedy as a whore in her craft,
And like the ant, patient and slow?
In which philtre? – in which wine? – in which draught?

Say it, beautiful sorceress, oh! if you know it, say,
To this mind filled with fear
Like a dying man, whom the wounded crush to clay,
That the hooves of the horse sear,
Say it, beautiful sorceress, oh! if you know it, say,

To this dying man whom the wolf already senses
While crows croak his doom,
To this broken soldier! If he must lose his pretences
To have his cross and his tomb;
This poor dying man whom the wolf already senses!

Can we light up a black, muddy morn?
Can we tear at the shade
Denser than pitch, without dusk or dawn,
Without funereal lightning, without stars for your aid,
Can we light up a black, muddy morn?

Hope’s light, which on the inn’s tiles would play
Is snuffed out, dead forevermore!
Without moon and without light, finding where they stay,
The martyrs of an evil shore,
The Devil snuffed out all that on the inn’s tiles would play!

Sweet sorceress, do you love the cursed?
Know those whom sins destroy?
Know you Remorse, its poisoned traits dispersed,
To whom our heart’s a toy?
Sweet sorceress, do you love the cursed?

With curséd teeth the Irreparable bites
A piteous monument, our soul,
And often it attacks, as termites
Eat up a building whole.
With curséd teeth the Irreparable bites!

– Sometimes I saw, at the back of a trite stage
That a ringing orchestra lit
A fairy lighting a miraculous new age
In a sky hell would better fit;
Sometimes I saw, at the back of a trite stage

A being, who was only light, gold and gauze
Bringing huge Satan down;
But my heart, which never knows rapture or applauses
Is a theatre where we drown
In waiting always, always in vain for the Being with wings of gauze!