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Author Topic: French books
rasmus
malcontent
Babbler # 621

posted 14 February 2006 02:36 AM      Profile for rasmus   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
First of all, French books almost never have an index and the table of contents is in the back, which makes no sense to me. Not sure why the whole incredibly helpful index thing never took off. Oh, where was that line I read? I guess I better read until I find it again!

But that's not what's bugging me now. Many French books, particularly specialized ones, are published without having had their pages cut at the printer's. Therefore, you must cut the pages yourself if you want to read more than one out of four pages. I just got a "used" book that is a couple of decades old, but the previous owner never cut the pages, and so, obviously, had never read the book. I guess I'll be taking out the X-acto knife. In the past I have botched this, to ugly results.


From: Fortune favours the bold | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
brebis noire
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 7136

posted 14 February 2006 09:12 AM      Profile for brebis noire     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'm annoyed by uncut pages and tables of contents in the back too.

Also, they tend to be more expensive for a poorer quality of editing and binding. I usually borrow them from the library for this reason.


From: Quebec | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 478

posted 14 February 2006 09:27 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
But these things are their charm, no?

I'm sure I know French books with indexes - shall look later.

One possible explanation, though: French classical education in the humanities, the dictatorial regime that lasted from the late C19 until the revolts of 1968, was based on textbooks that were actually little more than the most detailed outlines ever invented. Sub-sub-sub-topics to infinity, which meant that by the time you got down to providing content, there was almost no content left to provide.

So maybe they felt they didn't need indexes.


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
lagatta
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2534

posted 14 February 2006 09:34 AM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Odd, I don't think there are so many publishers who bring out books with uncut pages any more - I do often find them in older literary editions I've bought at bouquinistes. Why on earth is having the table of contents at the end a problem? It is simply a convention, like the way titles face on spines. Agree about indexes, though. That is even worse in Italian books.

brebis, have you checked how to access the collection at La Grande bibliothèque? I obviously haven't had to access it from afar, though do return books at a library closer to my house that I can walk to, but it is possible to borrow books from almost anywhere in Québec.

And why on earth is this topic in babble banter?


From: Se non ora, quando? | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
Ross J. Peterson
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 11657

posted 14 February 2006 09:37 AM      Profile for Ross J. Peterson     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
rasmus raven and brebis noire are both upset about the same things regarding French books.
-=-=-
Surely you find some French imprints and their colophons nicer than most USian editions.
-==-
Cut the pages like using a letter opener. The knife need not be sharp. Wrist action counts for your success. You know that uncut pages are rarer now than a couple decades ago.

As a guard at the door to a university library it was part of my job to cut such pages. Where it becomes tricky is when the book is several years old, when the paper is more brittle.

Have you ever noticed the distinctly French taste for white covers? Any Europeanist's bookshelves show mostly white bindings, whereas the average scholar in North America has shelves reflecting darker bindings from blue to red and a few black bindings as well.

Try finding a French-language thesaurus. They are called dictionnaires des synonymes de la langue française. Mine is not cross-indexed as is Roget's in English.

Indexing is an art. I have seen the job completely botched by many North American publishers to the point that they would have been better to drop the index completely. Maybe everybody in France who could index has something better to do with their time, like drink wine, make love and write poetry. I don't know the answer, obviously.


From: writer-editor-translator: 'a sus ordenes' | Registered: Jan 2006  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 478

posted 14 February 2006 09:40 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Interesting. I have found two Foucaults, one in the original and one in translation (both pb) - and it's true: neither has an index. Not even the translation.

But then, imagine trying to index some of these guys. In a Derrida index, the entry for Heidegger would say something like 14-76, 84-105, ...

Well, just kidding, but not far off. How do you index the self-elaborating?


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
rasmus
malcontent
Babbler # 621

posted 14 February 2006 11:28 AM      Profile for rasmus   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Skdadl:

I think somewhere I have one or two French books with an index -- perhaps the wonderful Sanskrit grammar by Louis Renou is one of them? I think so.


quote:
Why on earth is having the table of contents at the end a problem? It is simply a convention, like the way titles face on spines.

Yes, I was going to complain about that too. The titles on the spine are completely upside down! You've got to stand on your head to read them!

Letter opener -- hm. Maybe I have been using things that were too sharp? The thing is, it's much more paper to cut through than a normal envelope.


From: Fortune favours the bold | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
kingblake
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Babbler # 3453

posted 14 February 2006 10:32 PM      Profile for kingblake     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by rasmus raven:
The titles on the spine are completely upside down! You've got to stand on your head to read them!
I read part of this thread earlier, before RR posted this part, and I made a mental note to come back tonight and bring up the spine issue. I was beaten too it, but I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one to have noticed this, and to find it damn annoying.

But I'm not sure if they're always like that, or else if it's just not as standardized as with English books. Either way, browsing 2nd hand book shops where English and French are mixed can be hazardous to your neck muscles, that's for sure.


From: In Regina, the land of Exotica | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
David-Marc
rabble-rouser
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posted 14 February 2006 11:06 PM      Profile for David-Marc     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
From what I remember from my school books, there have been indexes, mostly Biology and chemestry and such books, and the Table of Contents were at the begining. (but then again, many if not most school books in Ontario are translatations from the ones used in English schools)

I've looked around through some of my school manuals and found books with indexes:
Québec: Etat et Society (dir. Alain-G. Gagnon, Québec-Amérique)
Le cinéma québécois (Marcel Jean, Boréal)
La poésie québécoise, anthologie (Laurent Mailhot et Pierre Nepveu) [index of authors, though]

Then again these are Canadian, not French books so maybe there something more American about indexes (indeces?).

the whole uncut pages... only saw that once in a used copy of Plays by Ionesco where only La cantatrice chauve was cut (hehe). I thought it was cool, because I was young and it seemed like something from way back (reminded me vaguely of a scene from the Great Gasby with all his uncut books, there just for show...I'm not making this up am I?)

As for the spine thing, I've had tons of books in both languages since I learned to read and had never noticed that until now.


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Raos
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posted 14 February 2006 11:15 PM      Profile for Raos     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I can't say I've ever really encountered french books (I'm depressingly unilingual ) but I can't imagine have the text on the spine going the opposite direction would really be that annoying. I just tried to figure out which way it goes without looking at my bookshelf, and I wasn't even sure which way the text does go. Plus, I've never had a problem reading from odd angles, including upside down.
From: Sweet home Alaberta | Registered: May 2004  |  IP: Logged
Ross J. Peterson
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 11657

posted 14 February 2006 11:33 PM      Profile for Ross J. Peterson     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
People interested in books and who shop 2nd hand should pick up The Chicago Manual of Style. This single volume is responsible for more uniformity, and care, in how English-language publications look on this side of 'the pond' than any other guide.

That being said, a book in the Éditions J'ai lu looks very different from a number in Éditions Gallimard or Éditions du Seuil. Within each publishing house, there are several collections that are quite identifiable and unique in matters of layout and production. But I do not know of a French publisher who will start printing the spine from the top down.

The table of contents is a different matter and is discretionary. Here Québec houses are feeling the draw to the front for very basic reasons: world marketing.

English speakers are not so smart as most of us are starting to sound in this thread (though 80% of it is a put-up job I'm certain). What is the difference between a Contents page and a TOC? Is there always an 's' on Content, or is it singular? Where do you tip in an addendum? Why? At least we have U of C to arbitrate much of this.

To make my real contribution to the thread, how about this: French books start quotes in dialogue with a double-long em dash. But inside dialogue, they use a funny set of left and right pointing carrots separated from the text by a space. What does a dash have to do with who is speaking?

In Canada, don't go for Grevisse to find answers or suggested standards. Try to find a little gem self published by its author Aurel Ramat: Le Ramat de la Typographie.


From: writer-editor-translator: 'a sus ordenes' | Registered: Jan 2006  |  IP: Logged
rasmus
malcontent
Babbler # 621

posted 15 February 2006 02:01 AM      Profile for rasmus   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Raos:
I can't say I've ever really encountered french books (I'm depressingly unilingual ) but I can't imagine have the text on the spine going the opposite direction would really be that annoying. I just tried to figure out which way it goes without looking at my bookshelf, and I wasn't even sure which way the text does go. Plus, I've never had a problem reading from odd angles, including upside down.

I was just kidding about the title thing. The TOC annoys me because I don't read French books often enough for it to be second nature, so I end up fumbling around for a bit until I realize to look in the back. Obviously, if I were used to it, it wouldn't be a problem. It does strike me as more appropriate as prefatory material, but I suppose if you're going to dispense with the index, it doesn't matter much.


From: Fortune favours the bold | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
unionist
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Babbler # 11323

posted 15 February 2006 02:04 AM      Profile for unionist     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Ross J. Peterson:
To make my real contribution to the thread, how about this: French books start quotes in dialogue with a double-long em dash. But inside dialogue, they use a funny set of left and right pointing carrots separated from the text by a space.

Carets?


From: Vote QS! | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged
Ross J. Peterson
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 11657

posted 15 February 2006 06:05 AM      Profile for Ross J. Peterson     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yes. Carets. They are just quotation marks though. The typo sank my ship.
From: writer-editor-translator: 'a sus ordenes' | Registered: Jan 2006  |  IP: Logged
Geneva
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posted 15 February 2006 07:25 AM      Profile for Geneva     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
and what about:
"Traduit de l'américain" ??

From: um, well | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged
lagatta
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2534

posted 15 February 2006 09:14 AM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
"Traduit de l'américain" is only found in books from France, and is fortunately losing ground to the more accurate "Traduit de l'anglais - États-Unis" (or Trinidad, Australie, wherever)..

One does still encounter Frenchpersons (I mean from France) even on the Left, who insist on translating United States as l'Amérique no matter how many times one reminds them that Québec and Chile are also part of the above, but then there are a fair number of Brits who still use "America" for the US as well, without alluding to the right-wing ideology that conveys within the US - for example progressive Guardian columnists.

I will put in a kind word for Maurice Grévisse though. He was Belgian, not French, and very attentive to French as spoken and written throughout the French-speaking world. I think he travelled to Québec about a dozen times.


From: Se non ora, quando? | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
unionist
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 11323

posted 15 February 2006 09:22 AM      Profile for unionist     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by lagatta:
One does still encounter Frenchpersons (I mean from France) even on the Left, who insist on translating United States as l'Amérique no matter how many times one reminds them that Québec and Chile are also part of the above, but then there are a fair number of Brits who still use "America" for the US as well, without alluding to the right-wing ideology that conveys within the US - for example progressive Guardian columnists.

If we did the right thing and separated from "AMERICA", we could accomplish at least the following:

1. Leave the stupid colonial name to the U.S. -- the only ones who are really proud of being "American" or norteamericanos. The hemisphere should be renamed in a way that honours the Aboriginal inhabitants.

2. Allow the Frenchpersons their "traduit de l'américain" foible -- although oughtn't it to be "l'américaine", given that "la langue" is understood??


From: Vote QS! | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged
Ross J. Peterson
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 11657

posted 15 February 2006 09:54 AM      Profile for Ross J. Peterson     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
unionist queried with anticipation:
quote:
oughtn't it to be "l'américaine", given that "la langue" is understood??

-=-
Nothing is understood. Not by me today, that's for sure. Comme ça, it would be 'traduit de l'anglaise' and it is not thus.
-=-
Gallimard's collection Folio, a very important one for literary translations into French (who could be more 'American' than Dos Passos or Nelson Algren?) never used 'traduit de l'américain' that I know of, yet other houses have used it.
-=-
unionist: You are pulling our collective leg, right? Separate from the hemisphere? Look at it from the other side: who is more American than Chilean poet Neruda?

BTW the title of Marie-Claire Blais, Parcours d'un écrivain is mostly about living in the US. Therefor I see that same old ambiguity in the subtitle: Notes américaines.

And I am convinced when some discuss les québecois being at core American many are not using the notion in the continental sense but in terms of the US.

Thanks for the note on Grévisse, lagatta. I just pulled it out of the wastebasket with that news about him being a nice guy. So he's not a pedant? I don't think Fowler was either.


From: writer-editor-translator: 'a sus ordenes' | Registered: Jan 2006  |  IP: Logged
unionist
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 11323

posted 15 February 2006 10:07 AM      Profile for unionist     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Ross J. Peterson:
Thanks for the note on Grévisse, lagatta. I just pulled it out of the wastebasket with that news about him being a nice guy. So he's not a pedant? I don't think Fowler was either.

Thank God Grévisse and Fowler, two of my longtime bedside companions, aren't pedants. Otherwise I'd be a pedantphile.


From: Vote QS! | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged
lagatta
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2534

posted 15 February 2006 10:11 AM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yes, Grévisse and Fowler, or Fowler's, are right here on my desk. I suspect they enjoy themselves immensely while Renzo and I are asleep.
From: Se non ora, quando? | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged

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