I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
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Friday, 28 September 2012

A case of Taisez vous!


We all tend to show off when writing. And novels provide a huge opportunity. Having scanned my novel, Blest Redeemer, in draft Plutarch asked if I wasn’t overdoing the French phrases? Was un mauvais quart d’heure (literally: a bad quarter of an hour; idiomatically: an unpleasant experience) necessary given that the scene wasn’t set in France? I agreed and substituted.

In 1921 they did things differently. Aldous Huxley’s novel, Crome Yellow, is not only stuffed with unexplained French (and Italian) material but includes several untranslated stanzas of a French folk song. Did readers simply skip these passages back then or were they all polyglots?

My second novel, Risen on Wings, is set in France and the French language is one of the characters. In revising the MS recently I displayed all the French in italics and now the pages have an accusatory look. Suppose it had been set in Russia? Perhaps the book will go down well in Bordeaux.

BEETHOVEN’S violin concerto is a violent, heart-wringing piece of music. Mrs RR and I heard it yet again recently, with the Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons directing the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and another Latvian, Baibe Skride (a woman), sawing the fiddle. What was unusual was Skride’s comparatively limited dynamic range (ie, softest to loudest) which meant that many melodic lines ended very, very quietly.

And very beautifully. However she was lucky in her choice of venue. Symphony Hall in Birmingham, a modern building, has wonderful acoustics and this was the first of many concerts I’ve heard there that proved this claim without doubt. Allowing us to appreciate Skride’s solid tone down there pianississimo. Even better it discouraged those with chronic lung disease from showing their prowess. 

1 comment:

Plutarch said...

I remember skipping the French and Italian phrases in Chrome Yellow. But in those days I didn't fancy myself as a linguist. Now that I do I tend to worry about showing off, which is what I still think Aldous Huxley was doing.