Back to the basis

One of the first questions that I’m asked when people find out that I’m not French is : what made me came to France?

The only answer that I found to be accurate enough, while still surprising and aback, was: because I loved French literature.

To be honest, as a high-school student, French was really being a pain: I was not natural with languages, the teacher was quite intolerant and tough, and the subject was far from inspiring us (there was no equivalent French “Friends” series to motivate our learning). Moreover, if I compare the French and the English textbooks, the latest including audio sequences, colorful pictures and innovative learning activities, I will actually state that French was straight forward boring.

French textbook cover

And then it came that day when, without knowing, the pain became something else…

Somewhere between the 11th and 12th grade, we got this assignment where we had to read in French a story of our own choice, and make a summary of it. Because I don’t know how to do things half-way, and knowing that I was already a fair subscriber to the town library, I went and found the most original and inaccessible French book they probably had, and which actually became my first ever entire French reading: Le roi pêcheur, Julien Gracq.

I will not insist on the physical pain it induced, because of actually not understanding 80% of the words the first time. I will however remember the beauty of the poetry it left in my mind and the music of the words that flew without leaving any trace, as water that will wash you and leave you dry at the same time.