Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Tag: French

440: The Story of French by Nadeau and Barlow


440.9: Nadeau, Jean-Benoit and Julie Barlow. The Story of French. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2006. 450 p. ISBN 0-312-34183-0.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 400: Languages
  • 440: French and Romance languages
  • 440.9: General history of French and Romance languages

Currently, French is in the top twenty spoken languages in the world. In the Middle Ages, it was the gateway to the aristocratic lifestyle and the lingua franca of the Western world. While it has been eschewed to the milieu of wine drinkers, film buffs, and expatriates, French is still as dynamic and contentious as it has ever been. There is even a group of people—the Academie Francaise—that presides over the language and sets the guidelines on new words and phrases that enter. Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow, in The Story of French, try to do what many other linguists have done before them: make the early history and morphology of a language interesting and relevant to modern readers.

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842: No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre


842.914: Sartre, Jean-Paul. “No Exit”. In No Exit and Three Other Plays. Translated by Stuart Gilbert. New York: Vintage, 1972. 46 pp. ISBN 0-394-70016-3.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 800: Literature
  • 840: Literatures of French and Romance languages
  • 842: French drama
  • 842.9: 20th Century to the present
  • 842.91: 1900 to 1999
  • 842.914: 1945 to 1999

Jean-Paul Sartre’s play “No Exit” is an interesting look at human interactions when nothing else can distract them. The play involves three people, valeted into a room in Hell one at a time, and then coming to grips with what exactly Hell means. Sartre’s famous quote—“Hell is other people”—is the culmination of their interactions. There’s Garcin, the serial philanderer who deserted the army and was executed by firing squad, Inez, the postal clerk whose affair with a woman led that woman to kill her husband, and Estelle, the aristocrat whose affair bore a child that she subsequently killed. Each firmly belongs where they are, but they squabble with other over petty things. The room they are in has no mirror, so each person must trust the other’s perception of how they look.

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841: Leaves of Hypnos by Rene Char

841.91: Char, Rene. Leaves of Hypnos (Extracts) and Lettera Amorosa. Translated by Jackson Mathews. Rome, Italy: Istituto Grafico Tiberino, 1944. 62 pp.

The 810s through the 860s are rather repetitive. Each division is literature from a different geographic culture (810 is American, 820 is British, 830 is German, and so on), then a pattern repeats: poetry, fiction, essays, speeches, letters, etc. The 840s are French literature, and xx1 denotes poetry, so 841 is French poetry. French poetry is a pretty expansive field, going back all the way to the troubadours of medieval Europe. In my library, I only have three books to choose from: a small volume of light poetry (but completely in French), a thick collection of Baudelaire’s works, and today’s selection.

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