A Month of French Authors/Un Mois d’Auteurs Français

The French author Françoise XENAKIS is going solo for the letter X

It’s good to have Xenakis alone as the auteure du jour. I still remember reading Zut, on a encore oublié Madame Freud in the 1980s. The book is not available in English, but its translated title would be something like, “Shoot, we’ve again forgotten Mrs. Freud.”

In this funny, impertinent book Xenakis focused her attention on the forgotten spouses of the most renowned male scientists, politicians, and artists.

Now in the US, we have so many books, especially for children, highlighting a forgotten female scientist, musician, artist, or writer. But in the 80s, Xenakis had written a modern book. Being a journalist by trade Xenakis wrote with wit and humor so this book is a fun yet instructive read.

I also remember reading with pleasure Mouche toi, Cléopâtre, her book about Cleopatra. Not a forgotten woman but one of the most unforgettable. No translation either for this book although the title would be funny in English too: Blow your nose, Cleopatra.

Françoise Xenakis spent her entire working life as a novelist and journalist. In the 1980s, she wrote a popular literary chronicle for the newspaper Le Matin de Paris. Since she was born in 1930, I don’t think she has written anything new lately.

Xenakis’ author page on Amazon can give you the list of her books, unfortunately only available in French.

If you enjoy music you may like to know that Xenakis is the widow of Iannis Xenakis, the music composer.

In the summer these branches will be my favorite parasol

Xenakis, on n’a pas vraiment besoin de la présenter, je me suis dit. Et puis j’ai réalisé que je l’avais lue dans les années 80, il y a un siècle de cela 🙂  Il est plus que vraisemblable que les jeunes français ne connaissent pas cette femme née en 1930.

J’avais bien aimé son livre  “Zut, on a encore oublié Madame Freud,” qui parle de façon humoristique et avec assez d’insolence des épouses de tous ces génies masculins que l’on encense dans la gloire alors qu’elles restaient dans l’ombre.

Maintenant aux Etats Unis on est entré dans une grande vague de livres pour enfants qui mettent en avant les femmes oubliées de l’histoire. Pas seulement de l’histoire américaine mais de partout à travers le monde. Qu’elles soient des artistes peintres, des musiciennes, des auteures, ou des femmes de science.

Xenakis était en quelque sorte une instigatrice de cette nouvelle vague. Je voulais dire “précurseuse” mais  “précurseur” ne semble pas avoir de forme féminine. Xenakis n’aimerait pas 🙂

En tous cas son style incisif et drôle, du à sa formation journalistique, rendent ses livres très engageants. Je me suis souvenue aussi de “Mouche toi, Cléopâtre” où pour une fois Xenakis ne parle pas de femmes oubliées de l’histoire mais de l’une des plus inoubliables femmes de notre histoire humaine.

 

Extrait de “Zut, on a encore oublié Madame Freud:”

“J’ai acheté ce matin un autre balai, j’ai bien noté, tu n’auras plus à me le redire, que le chuintement du balai de genêts te dérange. J’ai acheté un balai en poils de soie. Il se taira. Lui aussi.”

Extrait de “Désolée, mais ça ne se fait pas:”

“Le fiancé avait été conçu par une nuit de grand froid et forte pluie. Le whiskey ce soir-là devait manquer à la maison et le feu de tourbe être étouffé car, pour se réchauffer, l’homme et la femme O’Connor, transis de froid et d’humidité, avaient pourtant réussi à s’emboîter l’un dans l’autre, découvrant juste l’infime partie du corps nécessaire à chacun, et, rriv, le spermatozoïde avait bien peiné à forcer l’ovule. Sept mois plus tard était rrive Patrick O’Connor, le seul enfant de ce couple déjà usé, mais il était né chétif et de cette couleur blanc-bleu qui n’annonce rien de bon.”

Extrait de “Regarde, nos chemins se sont fermés:”

“Désormais, je suis devenue une mécanique rieuse et je fais rire les médecins, surpris d’abord, très vite beaucoup l’acceptent. Il n’y en eut qu’un à s’étonner, choqué, le rituel n’était pas respecté! Je ne le regardais pas comme le docteur, l’Herr Professor déifié dont on attend un mot, un seul, lui le détenteur de vie, il faisait partie de ceux qui aimaient que l’on murmure, yeux baissés, sa supplique, nous les manants ignares et faibles devant lui.”

 

See you tomorrow with letter Y!

A demain pour la lettre Y!

Thank you for reading!

Merci de nous lire!

Good luck if you participate to the A to Z Challenge!

Bonne chance si vous participez au Challenge de A à Z!

Comments

  1. Everyday I am presenting a restaurant (or two) Evelyne and I recently visited.

    XO Le Restaurant (Montreal): a few feet from our favorite hotel in Montreal, XO is set in a luxurious building (the former’s Banker’s Hall). The chef offers classics like Salade de Topinambours Rotis, Poitrine de Canard Poele, Morue Noire,
    Financier a l’erable, etc
    During the cold winters XO can be accessed from “la ville souterraine”, this unique underground maze where you can walk or travel for miles without having to set a foot outside

    — Evelyne’s husband.

    • “Financier a l’Eracle” I need to be enlightened on this one. 🙂 –Curt

      • Oops! I meant “erable” not “eracle”. “Financier a l’Erable” is in fact a “maple financier”, most likely here a reference from the XO Chef to the former Merchants Bank building. (St-James Hotel.) It is really a spectacular one.
        In fact, I did not know “financier cakes” were originally a favorite of the bankers in the Paris financial district, as they were baked in small tins the shape of a gold bar.

        –joh

      • Looked up the recipe. It sounds particularly appropriate, in your area, given the heavy use of maple sugar! Interesting about the bankers and their gold bars. –Curt

  2. So, here’s the question, Evelyne, what are you and your husband going to do to celebrate the end of this 30 day challenge? Two more to go… –Curt

    • Oh another challenge? Really? 🙂
      We need to brainstorm around dinner tonight.
      Thank you again for supporting us. It has been fun to read your comments and I’m happy if you discovered a French author or a restaurant along the way.
      I certainly discovered many tempting places as I read your blog.

  3. It must have been an interesting read to learn about the “forgotten spouses”. I love books with humor. Sounds like a fun one. WeekendsInMaine

    • It was a fun read and enlightening too. Because it was true that these men did great work, thanks to smart women who either took care of everything while they focused on their work or helped them with their research. But they remained invisible. Xenakis wrote with wit and had a knack with titles too. Good luck for your last two letters. Love what you’ve done this month with your own topic. A journey in Maine from A to Z is a real treat.

  4. I think looking at people and events from a different perspective can be fun. I can understand why this would be a fun read.

  5. It was a great read. Plus being in the 80s which were important years for women, it meant even more sense. Nobody had really thought of these spouses who lived in their famous husbands’ shadows. So Xenakis opened the door. Thank you again, Dan for trecking along. The journey is almost over 🙂

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