NEW FRENCH FICTION IN TRANSLATION : My French Life™ BOOK CLUB discussion

The End of Eddy
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The End of Eddy > 2 QUESTIONS before and while READING

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Jacqueline Dubois Pasquier (aleajac) | 115 comments Mod
Édouard Louis En finir avec Eddy Bellegueule by Édouard Louis

1) To what extent do you know of rural poor Northern France?
(Can you name a few cities? Have you seen French very popular comedy ‘Les Ch’tis’?)
2)Isn’t it contradictory to call a novel an autobiography?


message 2: by Jacqueline (last edited Apr 10, 2018 01:17AM) (new) - added it

Jacqueline Dubois Pasquier (aleajac) | 115 comments Mod
Sue Pelletier I'm over halfway through and can't say I'm enjoying it at all however I see that it is taking me way out of my usual genre not to mention my comfort zone so for that reading this book is an interesting experience. By the way I loved "Bienvenue chez les ch'tis" - an absolute favourite!
after watching the discussion between Edouard Louis and Tash Aw of LRB
Thank you for linking this interview I will continue reading with more compassion and a greater understanding of a part of French society that I had not known to exist in such recent times.


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Jacqueline Dubois Pasquier (aleajac) | 115 comments Mod
ANSWERS ABOUT POOR RURAL NORTHERN FRANCE
First Thread
Thank you to you Sue for your interest, indeed it's a discussion I had with Carolyne who attended our book club meeting in Paris, foreigners who visit France and like this country, its culture etc... have often little knowledge of this not so glamorous aspect (and I know it is the same in all Western countries) , with no special touristic spots, where people are poor and often uneducated and jobless which goes with alcoholism and unhealthy habits. It seems that there's no escaping this vicious circle if you were born in these places. Our young writer did succeed though and it was worth telling!
Sue PelletierNearly 20 years living in SW France and I remained ignorant. It seems the agricultural connection to the land provides a much greater pride and sense of belonging. As you pointed out lifestyle so often depends on where one is born.


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Jacqueline Dubois Pasquier (aleajac) | 115 comments Mod
Second Thread
Donna Dellinger Devereux By coincidence, I had just finished reading My Good Life in France by Janine Marsh before reading The End of Eddy. Marsh is a Brit who bought a house maybe an hour's (?) drive from where Eddy is set. Of course, the books are like night and day. Marsh recounts many charming settings and experiences in her rural village, described as having some 140 humans and thousands of cows. The presence of a factory in Eddy's town is a defining difference. The bitter winters in Northern France are a feature in both novels. The damp is practically a character in The End of Eddy. I reread parts of The Stranger by Camus after I finished Eddy because there was something of Eddy that reminded me of The Stranger. I haven't quite put my finger on the echoes of Camus in Eddy yet. The searing heat of Algiers permeates The Stranger, though, like the cold and damp do in The End of Eddy.
Kerrin-gai Hofstrand-easom I sadly know very little about the north of France...I know about the south though!...and no an autobiographical novel is doable...it’s something I dream of writing!


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Jacqueline Dubois Pasquier (aleajac) | 115 comments Mod
Third Thread
Carolyne Lee For the first question: “How much do you know about rural poor Northern France? Can you name a few cities? Have you seen the very popular French comedy ‘Les Ch’tis’?” Before reading this book, I knew very little about this area or demographic, although I had seen ‘Les Ch’tis’ and also more recently ‘La famille Ch’tite’, but I didn’t take them very seriously. I’ve valued the insight that ‘Eddy’ offers into a demographic that we visitors to France don’t often see (what country wants to admit that people live in poverty?). But to know a country I think it’s beneficial to try to understand all aspects of it, not just the aesthetic and the privileged.
I haven’t yet finished reading the book–and I almost don’t want to, as he writes so well–but I may have other points to add once I have finished. I’ll be very interested to compare a few pages of each version to see how certain terms and expressions are translated–“les durs”, for example. I look forward to the next bookclub meeting to discuss this too!
Jacqueline Dubois Little villages in Northern rural France where Eddy comes from is not an area tourists usually visit (why would they, unless they have personal reasons for staying there) That's why I thought it was interesting to move settings from Paris bourgeois neighborhood (in The Perfect Nanny) to its complete opposite.This is France too, as it's not only the prerogative of the North of course to host such depressing areas. I don't think they're worth the visit, but It's important to know France is not only a beautiful and quaint postcard (this can be felt currently as workers claims through the strikes are being voiced - mainly about the loss of purchasing power) Donna , the weather as part and parcel of the list of characters in Eddy is a great topic to discuss . The house worsening condition is just the mirror of how poor they are and poorer they become after the father is laid off. The damp and the cold affect both the house and their characters. As you point out, the weather is used as a literary device and is an indispensable element to understand the characters ( it reminded me of 'Angela's Ashes' by Frank Mc Court and the central role played by the constant rainy weather in Ireland but it's great you compared it to 'L'Etranger' by Camus for the same reason ) .


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Jacqueline Dubois Pasquier (aleajac) | 115 comments Mod
ANSWERS QUESTION 2 Isn’t it contradictory to call a novel an autobiography ?
FIRST THREAD
Donna I am satisfied with Edouard's explanation about the autobiography/novel question that he gives in the interview in the video posted above. The publishers could not believe his story really happened to him because the brutality he experienced seemed so extreme. He changed the names of the people in his life for the novel, so in that regard it cannot be placed neatly in the category of autobiography, I suppose.
Sue I can appreciate the publisher's scepticism as I too felt it was far-fetched with gratuitous brutality but after listening to Edouard's interview I was convinced. He comes across as a straight forward and intelligent young man with a surprisingly developed intellect. I missed where and how he managed to become so well educated (reference to Greek philosophers and writers...) I thought Novel at first but maybe Autobiography now!


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Jacqueline Dubois Pasquier (aleajac) | 115 comments Mod
SECOND THREAD
Carolyne Lee 2I’m now about two-thirds the way through reading the French version of Eddy. I’ll answer your second question first: “Isn’t it contradictory to call a novel an autobiography?”
While genre borders are often quite porous, if I were to label this book’s genre, I would call it an autobiography, certainly, in the form of ‘literary non-fiction’ I don’t think this is a category in French literature, but it is in English, and much media writing has been moving in this direction for a long time, simply because readers enjoy it more. This is because the writer creates scenes which readers can ‘see’ and experience emotionally. Edouard Louis does this frequently in his book, but not nearly as much as is normally done in a novel. Also, because it is based on his life (or his version of his life, as he makes clear in his interview), he includes quite a deal of reflection and analysis. This takes readers–even if only momentarily–out of the very vivid scenes–and constructs a sort of ‘sideways’ movement, as opposed to a ‘forward’ movement, more characteristic of ‘pure’ novels. So I see this book as a sort of hybrid, rather than a novel per se.
Jacqueline Dubois I just wanted to add that I agree with all your comments about Eddy being definitely an autobiography. However at the time the novel was published I remember I saw interviews of Eddy's members of his family who were all appalled and said he had made this all up! So to what extent what is claimed by an author to be an autobiography can be 100% reliable and true ? I don't believe such a performance is possible.First of all, one's memory is totally subjective + a writer is a story teller, i.e. an inventor, a manipulator, in the end we'll have the pieces of his life he only wanted to spare. I remember our teacher of French literature when I was in Junior High School (11th grade/ La Première in the French school system) when we studied 'Les Confessions' by Rousseau had warned us , despite the promise the philosopher made in the preamble 'Je forme une entreprise qui n'eut jamais d'exemple et dont l'exécution n'aura point d'imitateur. Je veux montrer à mes semblables un homme dans toute la vérité de la nature ; et cet homme ce sera moi.' , his confessions were not really honest!


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