French Language Blog

Une grande romancière, mère et grand-mère Posted by on Feb 16, 2011 in Culture, Vocabulary

As the national attention of her pays natal (native country), l’Égypte, was overwhelmingly occupied by the stunning popular uprisal qui battait son plein(at its height) just a few days ago, the disappearance from this world of l’enfant du pays(the native child, or literally “the child of the country”) -who was also of Lebanese extraction and later became French, par adoption– went by almost completely inaperçue (unnoticed)… 

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Born into une famille libanaise(a Lebanese family) who resided then in le Caire (Cairo), the capital of “la mère du monde, or “the Mother of the World“, which is how Egyptians famously nickname their country, future author and mother Andrée was to eventually settle in France in the aftermath of WWII, after spending half of the wartime in le Liban(Lebanon.) Soon enough, la jeune adolescente(the young teenager) emerged to adulthood as a prolific author, venturing in more than one literary genre: Essays, prose, poetry, drama, and even la littérature d’enfance et de jeunesse(children’s literature.)

A short portrait of Madame Chedid, accompanied by her famous son Louis Chedid and even more famous grandson, the seven-times winner of les Victoires de la Musique, singer and “rock star” Matthieu ‘-M-‘ Chedid

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Her rich identity as une femme arabe(an Arab woman), une chrétienne (a Christian woman), and une francophone, finds a wide and profound réflexion in her literary works, which are translated today in nine languages around the world.

When she won le Goncourtof poetry a few years ago, it was by no means a new accomplishment for this grande dame. More than 30 years ago, she had already won le Prix Goncourt de la Nouvelle. In fact, that prize was known back then asla Bourse” Goncourt de la Nouvelle(in the “short story” category), which she won at a time when earning le Goncourt truly meant something in the Frenchmonde littéraire (literary world.) That is, way before the Goncourt morphed, as of last year, into a “Clonecourt“, namely the special award for unabashed plagiarizing “Raëlian” clones… (See the “Houellebecq dossier” for more details.)

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Just as Mary N. Layoun, an author who wrote often about la Grèce (Greece), rightfully pointed out in her study “The Sixth Day of Compassion“, devoted to Andrée Chedid‘s novel le sixieme jour” (“The Sixth Day”), the wise influence of Platon (Plato) is readily perceptible, and lies at the very heart of her works.

Although Mrs. Layoun does not state it quite so explicitly in the aforementioned study, one wonders how it would not be possible to think of the allégorie platonique de la caverne(Platonic allegory of the Cave), illuminating the true sense of our reality, the source of la lumière et les ombres (the light and the shadows), when Madame Chedid pens these magnificently memorable lines (Page 85, of the Flammarion edition) through the mouth of her character, Om Hassan: “L’ombre, c’est la maladie du soleil, et rappelle-toi, le soleil gagne toujours. Toi, tu es mon soleil. Tu es ma vie.” (“The shadow is but the disease of the Sun, et remember, the Sun always triumphs. You, you’re my Sun. You’re my life.”)?

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  1. Rachida and Arris:

    C’est bien de parler d’Andrée Chedid surtout en ces moments de révolution égyptienne et de révolutions arabes. Une femme arabe qui a eu le prix Goncourt, c’est bien de le rappeler