Iberville's Gulf Journals
Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville, translated by Richebourg Gaillard McWilliams University of Alabama Press, 1991 Library of Congress F372.L538 1981 | Dewey Decimal 976
Europe's expansion into the New World during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries was a story of power alignment and cultural transmission as well as dramatic individual effort. Spain had her conquistadores, France her coureurs de bois, and England her sea dogs. Isolated from the authority of home governments, tempted by the abundance of gold, fur, and fish in the New World, these adventurers so vital to national policies of expansion developed their own personal creeds of conquest and colonization. Their individual exploits not only represent a humanistic theme essential in Europe's movement westward but heighten the analyses of cultural institutions of the era. It is within such a multidisciplinary light that one can experience the Gulf Coast adventures of Pierre LeMoyne d'Iberville.
This bilingual collection of essays, the fruits of a conference held in 1989 to commemorate the join Bicentennials of Georgetown University and the French Revolution, illuminates the various ways in which the American Revolution and its aftermath directly and indirectly influenced France before and after the French Revolution. The essays cluster around several basic themes: the condition of Native Americans and African-Americans, French perceptions of political, religious, and economic issues in the new republic, and the ways in which French images of America were affected by travel literature and the performing and plastic arts. The intercultural and interdisciplinary approaches taken by the fifteen authors are equally various and include social and political history, literary history and criticism, and linguistics.
Long before the guillotines of the 1789 Revolution brought a grisly political end to the ancien régime, Jay Caplan argues, the culture of absolutism had already perished. In the King's Wake traces the emergence of a post-absolutist culture across a wide range of works and genres: Saint-Simon's memoirs of Louis XIV and the Regency; Voltaire's first tragedy, Oedipe; Watteau's last great painting, L'Enseigne de Gersaint; the plays of Marivaux; and Casanova's History of My Life.
While absolutist culture had focused on value directly represented in people (e.g., those of noble blood) and things (e.g., coins made of precious metals), post-absolutist culture instead explored the capacity of signs to stand for something real (e.g., John Law's banknotes or Marivaux's plays in which actions rather than birth signify nobility). Between the image of the Sun King and visions of the godlike Romantic self, Caplan discovers a post-absolutist France wracked by surprisingly modern conflicts over the true sources of value and legitimacy.
In medieval literature, when humans and animals meet—whether as friends or foes—issues of mastery and submission are often at stake. In the Skin of a Beast shows how the concept of sovereignty comes to the fore in such narratives, reflecting larger concerns about relations of authority and dominion at play in both human-animal and human-human interactions.
Peggy McCracken discusses a range of literary texts and images from medieval France, including romances in which animal skins appear in symbolic displays of power, fictional explorations of the wolf’s desire for human domestication, and tales of women and snakes converging in a representation of territorial claims and noble status. These works reveal that the qualities traditionally used to define sovereignty—lineage and gender among them—are in fact mobile and contingent. In medieval literary texts, as McCracken demonstrates, human dominion over animals is a disputed model for sovereign relations among people: it justifies exploitation even as it mandates protection and care, and it depends on reiterations of human-animal difference that paradoxically expose the tenuous nature of human exceptionalism.
If you had been living in France in the 1990s, the language you would have heard on the radio and television or seen in the newspapers would be far removed from the French language of ten or twenty years ago. The country and its language have changed tremendously in a relatively short period of time, and, as a result, English speakers with a grounding in French can still find themselves struggling to understand terms commonly encountered in contemporary French society. Luckily, Eleanor and Michel Levieux now bring us up to date with their Insiders' French, an utterly entertaining and informative guide to the language of the "new France."
This "new France" is a country poised to experience the European single currency but uncertain about being part of Europe. It is hooked on fast food but ambivalent about the country where it originated. France today has record unemployment and an increasingly controversial immigrant population. Clearly, given the rapidly changing conditions and lifestyles, conventional French dictionaries alone cannot completely inform readers and visitors. Insiders' French offers a solution to the incomprehension, a unique handbook in which you'll find the language of European union, the space program, abortion and women's rights, high-tech industries, and health care, among other topics. Entries proceed by association of ideas and related terms, with extensive cross-referencing, while still being alphabetized for easy reference like a standard dictionary. Cartoons from major French journals add to your understanding and enjoyment.
Insiders' French opens up the secret territory of French politics and culture that is often not understood by visitors or students, and it does so with wit and verve—qualities that remain in the French language despite its recent changes.
An Italian Journey
Jean Giono Northwestern University Press, 1998 Library of Congress PQ2613.I57Z475513 1998 | Dewey Decimal 914.504924
In An Italian Journey, Jean Giono describes his journey to the land of his father's people. A reluctant traveler (he rarely left Provence), Giono discovers a strange beauty not only in the palazzi and canals of Venice but also in wistful waiters, suspicious hairdressers, pugnacious men of God, recalcitrant coffeemakers, umbrellas, and field machinery. In Giono's world a stamp collectors' market can appear to verge on revolution and inept municipal musicians suddenly offer Mozartian joys.