The Corner

Re: French Language Bleg

My request for help in deciphering the French song “La route est dure” has ignited raging controversies in my email bag.  There is general agreement that the French is not very good.  The 8th line in particular is problematic.  Sample reader comment:

“The sentence ‘un seul pas…’ is correct, but doesn’t seem to make much sense.  (You wrote ‘un seul par contre la tyrannie’ on your website, which doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense either – I prefer “un seul pas”.)  [Note: I have changed it back to “un seul pas…”—Derb]

“Also, the line ‘mon âme est sûre d’aucune borne’ (which I still seem to hear) is probably false. In perfect French, it should be ‘n’est sure,’ and it doesn’t make much sense anyway.

“But the song is quite moving (and the _viole_ part adds a lot to it). I wonder who wrote it. Maybe some people made it up for the series, but it may have been written by an English-speaking operative in France. Who knows?”

Who indeed?  So far as the song’s provenance is concerned, I am still no wiser.  Who wrote it?  Was it in fact a French Resistance song?  If Sam Beckett were still around, we might ask him, since he was in the Resistance.  He’s not, so we can’t, and I only mention this because yesterday the second “Beckett on Film” disk arrived from Netflix.  I gave myself a private showing of Krapp’s Last Tape, to see if it would be suitable for a family movie.**  It is beautifully, beautifully done, pitch-perfect Beckett.  John Hurt is a great Krapp.

A bit to my surprise, no-one has commented on the fact that the song “La route est dure,” which celebrates freedom, was used as an intro for a TV drama based on three novels by Jean-Paul Sartre, who was a swooning fan of totalitarian communism, and never met a commie dictator he didn’t like.  Well, well, the Devil has all the best tunes, you know.

——–

**My conclusion:  Yes.

John Derbyshire — Mr. Derbyshire is a former contributing editor of National Review.

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