Francophiles’ Guide to Quarantine, v. V

Notre Dame, Notable Authors, Sights to See and Songs to Hear

April 15, 2020By Heidi EllisonWhat's New Art & Culture

We have a variety of activities for you this week. First of all, to commemorate the first anniversary of the tragic fire that nearly destroyed the millennium-old Notre Dame Cathedral on April 15, 2019, Paris Musées has put together an online exhibition of 127 images showing the cathedral throughout its long history.

This is one of the authors whose name is hidden in the poem below.
This is one of the authors whose name is hidden in the poem below.

If online substitutes for real-life activities and events are starting to lose their appeal, here is something a little different for you francophiles. The French love nothing more than wordplay (well, maybe the cinema?), and the following poem by Éliane Ricard incorporates the names of 30 famous writers (most of them French) cleverly disguised in everyday words (and sometimes more than one word and parts thereof). It’s not easy – I only got 13 on my first read – and I recommend that you read it out loud, which helps in catching the names. You’ll find the answers at the end of the article, but don’t cheat.

Confiné, il racontait ce qu’il ferait une fois libre, d’ici un mois, dans ces eaux-là. Ce moment semble si dur à surmonter… mais les mots, lierre de la pensée, permettent de s’évader un moment, de laisser fuir des maux passants.

Près de la fontaine dont les flots bercent l’oreille distraite, des oiseaux volent, terre, et racines semblent endormis. Les oiseaux sont là, souverains, beaux, jeunes encore.

Une tribu goguenarde qui boit l’eau et la bénédiction du soleil qui couvre leur air novice.

Le rabot de l’air ne les épuise pas : ils n’en font cas, mus par la douceur du jour.

Mus, c’est le mot, mais sans le mouvement : ils se posent, l’arbre vert ne bouge presque pas.

Du mât naturel, ils regardent au loin, plus ou moins anges, peu ou prou statues.

Braves bêtes, la becquée te les rend grands mais où est le bec aujourd’hui ?

Le héros poursuit son chemin rêvé. Les ronces ardentes frôlent ses pieds.

Il avance, doucement, cherchant une aide, blonde, brune, rousse, au hasard.

Il a beau voir toute cette splendeur, il ne s’y trompe pas.

Il a beau marcher par l’esprit, il ne bouge en réalité pas.

C’est la force des poètes : se promener sans mouvement, sans de grands efforts.

Voir la vie en beau malgré tout, malgré les épreuves.

L’esprit est une gare : y passent mille idées qui s’enfuient et nous entraînent.

Toujours l’art a gonflé cette voile humaine, cette force : tenir bon, jusqu’au prochain voyage.

Members of the Orchestre National d’Auvergne perform Mozart’s A Little Night Music from their homes.
Members of the Orchestre National d’Auvergne perform Mozart’s A Little Night Music from their homes.

Music
Music is more important than ever in these stressful times. There is plenty available on the Internet, of course, but I thought the effort of the Orchestre National d’Auvergne was especially moving. Each member of the orchestra recorded on video at home his or her part of Mozart’s A Little Night Music (KV.525), and conductor Roberto Forés Veses put it all together into a joyous, professional rendition.

"Structure Dynamique" (1956), by Maria Helena Vieira da Silva.
“Structure Dynamique” (1956), by Maria Helena Vieira da Silva. Courtesy of Waddington Custot.

Art
The Galerie Jeanne Bucher Jaeger in Paris’s Marais hosted a wonderful traveling exhibition of the work of Portuguese artist Maria Helena Vieira da Silva (1908-92) last fall. Those who missed it can see a lovely video presentation of it here.  The show is currently at the Di Donna Galleries in New York.

On Thursday, April 16 at 9 am (Paris time), the Théâtre du Châtelet and France Inter will present on their social media a new work by David Hockney created while in lockdown, and a letter from the artist, in which he notes that his drawings are seen as a respite during these terrifying times because they are reminders of the renewal of the cycle of life in springtime.

Theater
The Comédie Française is streaming a variety of short pieces, full-length plays and talkbacks, and providing links to podcasts and YouTube performances. On Saturday, April 18 at 8:30 pm, for example, a 1979 production of La Trilogie de la Villégiature, by Carlo Goldoni, will be streamed. Sign up on the website to receive the weekly program.

Food
Bored (and ambitious) foodies who live in France might want to participate in Le Fooding’s contest La Meilleure Table Confinée de France.  Requirements include four menus, the names and detailed recipes for each dish, photos of the dishes and table settings and a statement about your cuisine. That should keep you busy! All due on May 5. The two prizes are €2,000 and €1,000 worth of meals at restaurants listed on Le Fooding.

As of this week, those who can afford it can order a Panier Particulier from caviar and fish specialist Petrossian. Each week, a well-known chef will put together a basket containing five recipes and the ingredients needed to make them. Cheffe Adeline Grattard of Yam’Tcha will kick off the program with crab nems, toast with smoked fish roe, steamed asparagus, trout roe with white miso blanc, Chinese noodles, salmon-heart carbonara with a soft-boiled egg and a bread finger with ginger and fleur de caviar.

Special thanks to Constance Sherak, professor of French at Yale University, for alerting us to many of the items mentioned in this article.

In case you missed previous weeks’ “Francophiles’ Guide to Quarantine” (free films, audiobooks, music, comedy, SOS Help hotline, and more) read them here, here, here and here.

And here are the names of the authors embedded in the poem at the beginning of this article:

Confiné, il racontait ce qu’il ferait une fois libre, d’ici un mois, dans ces eaux-là [Zola]. Ce moment semble si dur à [Duras] surmonter… mais les mots, lierre [Molière] de la pensée, permettent de s’évader un moment, de laisser fuir des maux passants [Maupassant].
Près de la fontaine [La Fontaine] dont les flots ber[Flaubert]cent l’oreille distraite, des oiseaux volent, terre [Voltaire], et racines [Racine] semblent endormis. Les oiseaux sont là, souverains, beaux [Rimbaud], jeunes encore.
Une tribu go [Hugo] guenarde qui boit l’eau [Boileau] et la bé[Labé]nédiction du soleil qui couvre leur air no[Erneaux]vice.
Le rabot de l’air [Baudelaire] ne les épuise pas : ils n’en font cas, mus [Camus] par la douceur du jour.
Mus, c’est [Musset] le mot, mais sans le mouvement : ils se posent, l’arbre vert ne [Verne] bouge presque pas.
Du mât [Dumas] naturel, ils regardent au loin, plus ou moins anges, peu ou prou st[Proust]atues.
Braves bêtes, la becquée te [Beckett] les rend grands mais où est le bec [Houellebec] aujourd’hui ?
Le héros poursuit son chemin rêvé. Les ronces ard[Ronsard]entes frôlent ses pieds.
Il avance, doucement, cherchant une aide, blonde, brune, rousse, au [Rousseau] hasard.
Il a beau voir [Beauvoir] toute cette splendeur, il ne s’y trompe pas.
Il a beau marcher [Beaumarchais] par l’esprit, il ne bouge en réalité pas.
C’est la force des poè[Poe]tes : se promener sans mouvement, sans de [Sand] grands efforts.
Voir la vie en [Vian] beau malgré tout, malgré les épreuves.
L’esprit est une gare : y [Gary] passent mille idées qui s’enfuient et nous entraînent.
Toujours l’art a gon[Aragon]flé cette voile humaine, cette force : tenir bon, jusqu’au prochain voyage.

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