Thursday, August 26, 2010


As I left work yesterday, my last day of work before my Master's exam, I was treated to a heartfelt cries of "merde!" by all of my co-workers. When it comes to luck, the French are as superstitious as theater people, so the only words of encouragement they permit themselves is this (rather vulgar but amusing) variation on the "break a leg" idea. (My supervisor, however, followed her exclamation with a look of fear--"you do know that we say that right? Ok, good. I just realized how confusing that could be to a foreigner...") So in the spirit of Merde...

During my reviewing this month, I have permitted myself brief pilgrimages to the burial sites/monuments of some of the writers whose work I admire. I saved the photos for now, to offer as a last-minute tribute to their ghosts, who I hope will provide me with inspiration (not to mention hand endurance and cramp resistance!) in my furious writings tomorrow.

In the Latin Quarter's Saint-Etienne du Mont church, in the shadow of the Pantheon, I found Racine:
And Pascal:
And outside the same church, their compatriot Corneille:
Diderot, beneath the Pantheon's dome:
In the Pantheon's catacombs, Victor Hugo and Alexander Dumas on the left, and Emile Zola on the right:
Also in the catacombs: Rousseau...
...and Voltaire:
The entrance to the Pantheon's catacombs bears an inscription in honor of the "writers who died for France"
Flaubert, in his family vacation spot of Trouville:
Moving on now to the Montparnasse cemetary, the shared grave of kindred spirits and love and philosophy, Sartre and De Beauvoir:
Close up of their grave, bearing Oscar Wilde-like kisses:
And of the metro ticket and centime tributes left by visitors:
Marguerite Duras:
Baudelaire (who, unfortunately, was forced to share a tomb with a stepfather he hated):
Beaudelaire's tributes:
My favorite absurdist, Eugene Ionesco:
And his anglophone contemporary, Beckett:
And, last but not least, Guy de Maupassant...
...and a hand-written note of appreciation, shoved into a crevice in the stone:

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