French Stories/Contes Francais: A Dual-Language Book [NOOK Book]

Overview


10 unusual stories by French literary masters from Voltaire to Camus: "Micromégas" by Voltaire; "The Atheist's Mass" by Balzac; "The Legend of St. Julian the Hospitaler" by Flaubert; "Spleen of Paris" by Baudelaire; "Minuet" by de Maupassant; "The Guest" by Camus; and more. Accurate English translations appear on facing pages.
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French Stories/Contes Francais: A Dual-Language Book

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Overview


10 unusual stories by French literary masters from Voltaire to Camus: "Micromégas" by Voltaire; "The Atheist's Mass" by Balzac; "The Legend of St. Julian the Hospitaler" by Flaubert; "Spleen of Paris" by Baudelaire; "Minuet" by de Maupassant; "The Guest" by Camus; and more. Accurate English translations appear on facing pages.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780486120270
  • Publisher: Dover Publications
  • Publication date: 7/3/2012
  • Series: Dover Dual Language French
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 394,765
  • File size: 709 KB

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French Stories/Contes Français

A Dual-Language Book


By Wallace Fowlie

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 1988 Wallace Fowlie
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-12027-0



CHAPTER 1

Voyage d'un habitant du monde de l'Etoile Sirius Dans La Planète De Saturne

Dans une de ces planètes qui tournent autour de l'étoile nommée Sirius il y avait un jeune homme de beaucoup d'esprit, que j'ai eu l'honneur de connaître dans le dernier voyage qu'il fit sur notre petite fourmilière; il s'appelait Micromégas, nom qui convient fort à tous les grands. Il avait huit lieues de haut: j'entends par huit lieues, vingt-quatre mille pas géométriques de cinq pieds chacun.

Quelques algébristes, gens toujours utiles au public, prendront sur-lechamp la plume, et trouveront que, puisque M. Micromégas, habitant du pays de Sirius, a de la tête aux pieds vingt-quatre mille pas, qui font cent vingt mille pieds de roi, et que nous autres citoyens de la terre nous n'avons guère que cinq pieds, et que notre globe a neuf mille lieues de tour; ils trouveront, dis-je, qu'il faut absolument que le globe qui l'a produit ait au juste vingt-un millions six cent mille fois plus de circonférence que notre petite terre. Rien n'est plus simple et plus ordinaire dans la nature. Les États de quelques souverains d'Allemagne ou d'Italie, dont on peut faire le tour en une demi-heure, comparés à l'empire de Turquie, de Moscovie ou de la Chine, ne sont qu'une très faible image des prodigieuses différences que la nature a mises dans tous les êtres.

La taille de son excellence étant de la hauteur que j'ai dite, tous nos sculpteurs et tous nos peintres conviendront sans peine que sa ceinture peut avoir cinquante mille pieds de roi de tour; ce qui fait une très jolie proportion.

Quant à son esprit, c'est un des plus cultivés que nous ayons; il sait beaucoup de choses; il en a inventé quelquesunes: il n'avait pas encore deux cent cinquante ans, et il étudiait, selon la coutume, au collège des jésuites de sa planète, lorsqu'il devina, par la force de son esprit, plus de cinquante propositions d'Euclide. C'est dix-huit de plus que Blaise Pascal, lequel, après en avoir deviné trentedeux en se jouant, à ce que dit sa soeur, devint depuis un géomètre assez médiocre, et un fort mauvais métaphysicien. Vers les quatre cent cinquante ans, au sortir de l'enfance, il disséqua beaucoup de ces petits insectes qui n'ont pas cent pieds de diamètre, et qui se dérobent aux microscopes ordinaires; il en composa un livre fort curieux, mais qui lui fit quelques affaires. Le mufti de son pays, grand vétillard et fort ignorant, trouva dans son livre des propositions suspectes, malsonnantes, téméraires, hérétiques, sentant l'hérésie, et le poursuivit vivement: il s'agissait de savoir si la forme substantielle des puces de Sirius était de même nature que celle des colimaçons. Micromégas se défendit avec esprit, il mit les femmes de son côté; le procès dura deux cent vingt ans. Enfin le mufti fit condamner le livre par des jurisconsultes qui ne l'avaient pas lu, et l'auteur eut ordre de ne paraître à la cour de huit cents années.

Il ne fut que médiocrement affligé d'être banni d'une cour qui n'était remplie que de tracasseries et de petitesses. Il fit une chanson fort plaisante contre le mufti, dont celuici ne s'embarrassa guère; et il se mit à voyager de planète en planète, pour achever de se former l'esprit et le coeur, comme l'on dit. Ceux qui ne voyagent qu'en chaise de poste ou en berline seront sans doute étonnés des équipages de làhaut; car nous autres, sur notre petit tas de boue, nous ne concevons rien au delà de nos usages. Notre voyageur connaissait merveilleusement les lois de la gravitation, et toutes les forces attractives et répulsives. Il s'en servait si à propos, que, tantôt à l'aide d'un rayon de soleil, tantôt par la commodité d'une comète, il allait de globe en globe, lui et les siens, comme un oiseau voltige de branche en branche. Il parcourut la voie lactée en peu de temps; et je suis obligé d'avouer qu'il ne vit jamais, à travers les étoiles dont elle est semée, ce beau ciel empyrée que l'illustre vicaire Derham se vante d'avoir vu au bout de sa lunette. Ce n'est pas que je prétende que M. Derham ait mal vu, à Dieu ne plaise! mais Micromégas était sur les lieux, c'est un bon observateur, et je ne veux contredire personne. Micromégas, après avoir bien tourné, arriva dans le globe de Saturne. Quelque accoutumé qu'il fût à voir des choses nouvelles, il ne put d'abord, en voyant la petitesse du globe et de ses habitants, se défendre de ce sourire de supériorité qui échappe quelquefois aux plus sages. Car enfin Saturne n'est guère que neuf cents fois plus gros que la terre, et les citoyens de ce pays-là sont des nains qui n'ont que mille toises de haut ou environ. Il s'en moqua un peu d'abord avec ses gens, à peu près comme un musicien italien se met à rire de la musique de Lulli, quand il vient en France. Mais, comme le Sirien avait un bon esprit, il comprit bien vite qu'un être pensant peut fort bien n'être pas ridicule pour n'avoir que six mille pieds de haut. Il se familiarisa avec les Saturniens, après les avoir étonnés. Il lia une étroite amitié avec le secrétaire de l'Académie de Saturne, homme de beaucoup d'esprit, qui n'avait, à la vérité, rien inventé, mais qui rendait un fort bon compte des inventions des autres, et qui faisait passablement de petits vers et de grands calculs. Je rapporterai ici, pour la satisfaction des lecteurs, une conversation singulière que Micromégas eut un jour avec M. le secrétaire.


Journey of an inhabitant of the world of the star Sirius to the planet Saturn

On one of those planets which revolve around the star named Sirius, there was a very witty young man whom I had the honor of knowing during the last journey he made to our little anthill. He was called Micromegas, a name which is most appropriate for all big men. He was eight leagues high. By eight leagues I mean twenty-four thousand geometrical paces of five feet each.

Some mathematicians, men constantly useful to the public, will immediately take their pens and discover that, since Mr. Micromegas, an inhabitant of the land of Sirius, measures from head to foot twenty-four thousand paces, which make one hundred and twenty thousand royal feet, and since we citizens of the earth barely measure five feet, and since our globe has nine thousand leagues in circumference, they will discover, I say, that the globe which produced him absolutely must have exactly twenty-one million six hundred thousand times more circumference than our small earth. Nothing is more simple and more commonplace in nature. The states of a few sovereigns in Germany or Italy, which can be crossed in half an hour, compared with the empires of Turkey, Muscovy or China, are only a faint image of the prodigious differences which nature has created in all beings.

His Excellency's size being the height I said, all our sculptors and all our painters will easily agree that his waist measures fifty thousand royal feet around and this makes him very well proportioned.

As for his mind, it is one of the most cultured we have. He knows many things. He has invented some. He was not yet two hundred and fifty years old, and was studying, according to custom, at the Jesuit college on his planet, when he solved, by the power of his brain, more than fifty theorems of Euclid. That is eighteen more than Blaise Pascal, who, after solving thirty-two with ease, according to his sister, then became a rather mediocre geometrician and a very bad metaphysician. At the end of childhood, when he was about four hundred and fifty years old, he dissected many of those small insects which do not have a hundred feet in diameter and which escape ordinary microscopes. He wrote a very unusual book about them which brought him trouble. The mufti of his country, a very ignorant hair-splitter, found in his book statements that were suspect, foul, rash, heretical, and smacking of heresy. He prosecuted him actively. The problem was whether the bodies of the fleas of Sirius were of the same substance as slugs. Micromegas defended himself wittily and won the women to his side. The lawsuit lasted two hundred and twenty years. At the end, the mufti had the book condemned by jurists who had not read it and the author was ordered not to appear at court for eight hundred years.

He was only slightly upset at being banished from a court which was seething with vexations and pettinesses. He composed a very amusing song against the mufti who was unaffected by it. And he began to journey from planet to planet, in order to complete the development of "his mind and his heart," as people say. Those who travel only in post-chaise or coach will doubtless be amazed at the conveyances in the planet above, for we, on our little mud pile, cannot imagine anything other than what we use. Our traveler knew remarkably well the laws of gravitation, and all the forces of attraction and repulsion. He used them so skillfully that, at times with the help of a sunbeam, and at other times with the help of a comet, he and those with him went from globe to globe, as a bird flits from branch to branch. He crossed the Milky Way in a very short time, and I am obliged to confess that he never saw, through the stars with which it is sown, that beautiful empyrean sky which the famous Reverend Derham boasts of having seen at the end of his spyglass. It's not that I claim that Mr. Derham did not see properly. God forbid! But Micromegas was on the spot. He is a fine observer, and I wish to contradict no one. After a long journey, Micromegas reached the globe of Saturn. Despite his being accustomed to seeing new things, he could not at first, on seeing the smallness of the globe and its inhabitants, keep from smiling in that superior fashion in which at times the wisest of men indulge. For Saturn, in a word, is scarcely nine hundred times larger than the earth, and the citizens of that land are dwarfs who are only a mere thousand fathoms tall. At first he and his friends laughed at them a bit, much as an Italian musician laughs at Lully's music when he comes to France. But since the Sirian was intelligent, he quickly understood that a thinking being may very well not be ridiculous because he is only six thousand feet tall. After amazing them, he became acquainted with the Saturnians. He became an intimate friend of the secretary of the Academy of Saturn, a man of great wit who indeed had invented nothing, but who was well aware of the inventions of other men, and who produced quite good light verse and important computations. I shall relate here, for the benefit of the readers, an unusual conversation which Micromegas had one day with Mr. Secretary.

CHAPTER 2

Conversation de l'habitant de Sirius avec celui de Saturne


Après que son excellence se fut couchée, et que le secrétaire se fut approché de son visage: Il faut avouer, dit Micromégas, que la nature est bien variée.

Oui, dit le Saturnien, la nature est comme un parterre dont les fleurs ...

Ah! dit l'autre, laissez là votre parterre.

Elle est, reprit le secrétaire, comme une assemblée de blondes et de brunes, dont les parures ...

Eh! qu'ai-je à faire de vos brunes? dit l'autre.

Elle est donc comme une galerie de peintures dont les traits ...

Eh non! dit le voyageur, encore une fois la nature est comme la nature. Pourquoi lui chercher des comparaisons?

Pour vous plaire, répondit le secrétaire.

Je ne veux point qu'on me plaise, répondit le voyageur; je veux qu'on m'instruise: commencez d'abord par me dire combien les hommes de votre globe ont de sens.

Nous en avons soixante et douze, dit l'académicien, et nous nous plaignons tous les jours du peu. Notre imagination va au delà de nos besoins; nous trouvons qu'avec nos soixante et douze sens, notre anneau, nos cinq lunes, nous sommes trop bornés; et, malgré toute notre curiosité et le nombre assez grand de passions qui résultent de nos soixante et douze sens, nous avons tout le temps de nous ennuyer.

Je le crois bien, dit Micromégas; car dans notre globe nous avons près de mille sens; et il nous reste encore je ne sais quel désir vague, je ne sais quelle inquiétude, qui nous avertit sans cesse que nous sommes peu de chose, et qu'il y a des êtres beaucoup plus parfaits. J'ai un peu voyagé: j'ai vu des mortels fort au-dessous de nous; j'en ai vu de fort supérieurs: mais je n'en ai vu aucuns qui n'aient plus de désirs que de vrais besoins, et plus de besoins que de satisfaction. J'arriverai peut-être un jour au pays où il ne manque rien; mais jusqu'à présent personne ne m'a donné de nouvelles positives de ce pays-là.

Le Saturnien et le Sirien s'épuisèrent alors en conjectures; mais, après beaucoup de raisonnements fort ingénieux et fort incertains, il en fallut revenir aux faits. Combien de temps vivez-vous? dit le Sirien.

Ah! bien peu, répliqua le petit homme de Saturne.

C'est tout comme chez nous, dit le Sirien: nous nous plaignons toujours du peu. Il faut que ce soit une loi universelle de la nature.

Hélas! nous ne vivons, dit le Saturnien, que cinq cents grandes révolutions du soleil. (Cela revient à quinze mille ans ou environ, à compter à notre manière.) Vous voyez bien que c'est mourir presque au moment que l'on est né; notre existence est un point, notre durée un instant, notre globe un atome. A peine a- t-on commencé à s'instruire un peu que la mort arrive avant qu'on ait de l'expérience. Pour moi, je n'ose faire aucuns projets; je me trouve comme une goutte d'eau dans un océan immense. Je suis honteux, surtout devant vous, de la figure ridicule que je fais dans ce monde.


Conversation of the inhabitant of Sirius with the inhabitant of Saturn

After his Excellency had gone to bed and the secretary had drawn near to his face, Micromegas said: "You must confess that there is much variety in nature."

"Yes," said the Saturnian, "nature is like a flower bed in which the flowers ..."

"Oh!" said the other, "forget about your flower-bed."

The secretary continued, "It is like a gathering of blondes and brunettes whose dresses ..."

"What do I care about your brunettes?" said the other.

"Then it is like a gallery of pictures whose features ..."

"But no," said the traveler, "once more I tell you, nature is like nature. Why try to make comparisons?"

"To please you," answered the secretary.

"I don't want to be pleased," answered the traveler, "I want to be taught. First begin by telling me how many senses the men in your world have."

"We have seventy-two," said the academician, "and every day we complain of the small number. Our imagination surpasses our needs. We find that with our seventy-two senses, with our ring and our five moons, we are too limited. And despite all our curiosity and the fairly large number of passions which come from our seventy-two senses, we have all the time in the world to be bored."

"I believe you," said Micromegas, "for in our world we have almost a thousand senses, and we still have strange vague desires, a strange restlessness which keeps warning us that we are of little consequence, and that there are beings much more perfect. I have traveled a little. I have seen mortals much below us. I have seen others far superior to us. But I have not seen any who have not more desires than real needs, and more needs than satisfaction. Perhaps one day I shall reach the country where nothing is lacking.

But up until now no one has given me any real news of that country."

The Saturnian and the Sirian then wore themselves out with conjectures. But after many very ingenious and very insecure arguments, they had to come back to facts. "How long do you live?" asked the Sirian.

"A very short time," answered the small man from Saturn.

"It is the same with us," said the Sirian. "We are always complaining about the short time. It must be a universal law of nature."

"Alas!" said the Saturnian, "we live only five hundred complete revolutions of the sun. (That comes to fifteen thousand years, or approximately, in our way of counting.) You can see that means dying almost at the moment of birth. Our existence is a point, our duration an instant, our globe an atom. We have just begun to learn a few things when death comes before we have any experience. As for me, I don't dare make any plans. I feel like a drop of water in a huge ocean. In front of you, especially, I am ashamed of the ridiculous figure I cut in this world."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from French Stories/Contes Français by Wallace Fowlie. Copyright © 1988 Wallace Fowlie. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
VOLTAIRE
Micromégas
Micromégas
HONORÉ DE BALZAC
La Messe de l'Athée
The Atheist's Mass
GUSTAVE FLAUBERT
La Légende de Saint Julien l'Hospitalier
The Legend of St. Julian the Hospitaler
CHARLES BAUDELAIRE
"Le Spleen de Paris (Le Vieux Saltimbanque, Le Joujou de Pauvre, La Corde)"
"Spleen of Paris (The Old Clown, The Poor Boy's Toy, The Rope)"
GUY DE MAUPASSANT
Menuet
Minuet
PAUL CLAUDEL
Mort de Judas
Death of Judas
ANDRÉ GIDE
Le Retour de l'Enfant Prodigue
The Return of the Prodigal Son
FRANÇOIS MAURIAC
Grand-Lebrun
Grand-Lebrun
MARCEL AYMÉ
Le Passe-Muraille
The Passer-through-Walls
ALBERT CAMUS
L'Hôte
The Guest
Notes
Questionnaire
Vocabulary
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