Friday, 5 November 2010


No ideas in this one but have decided that to keep my few followers I need to post regularly. Being too busy (which I have been) shouldn’t be an excuse; I could always post at least a one-liner once a week. Keep me to it.

I'm at the ‘writing up’ stage of my bit of the research (English in three London schools, 1945-65 -- Walworth School is my part, with Pat Kingwell). The task is somewhat tedious: you look at 30 bits of information and can write one sentence as a result. As a result it doesn’t flow, and the text is pedestrian -- I end up saying what happened but not what it means, why significant. That, I suppose, will be the next stage. And I imagine much of what I've written will be discarded as too trivial, too nitpicking or just too much. But I don’t think I can shortcut the process.

By Eurostar to Brussels last week - my first time except to change trains. (Return journey tedious -- 3 hours delay when train broke down, towed back to Brussels, check-in and security all over again, replacement train not ready. But the compensation made it all worth it: another return ticket to Brussels.)

I enjoyed Brussels of course, but one highlights was meeting two of my ex-PGCE students, John and Amy, now married and with a son and teaching at a British international school. On the train and in cafes etc read Camus L’Etranger in French - surprised how easy since I'm not very good. Fantastic novel -- hadn’t realised how good. (Read it English years ago -- can’t remember when). Inspired by that I found a great second-hand shop and bought some more Camus and also de Tocqueville’s L’Ancien Régime et la Revolution, which I also found I could manage. Great book, terrific writing. What made me get that was two things: (1) an interest in the French Revolution, arising from reading Burke and Carlyle (see label); (2) reading Peter Carey’s Parrot and Olivier in America, which is about de T and his earlier book, Democracy in America, which I’d also looked at. Ancien Régime is a terrific read: intellectual force and lively, spirited writing. It has an argument that holds it together beautifully, and some polemical points for contemporary France (1850s).

There’s more but that will do for now.

1 comment:

Jen G said...

Hi Pete, thanks for the update. Glad to hear your research project is progressing. I am attempting to read _L'avalee des avales_ by Rejean Ducharme. My reading in French is not strong, and I find it exhausting. I'm told by my room-mate, who loaned me the book, that the writing style is unconventional and can be challenging even for francophones - which gives me comfort as I struggle. Cheers to you. I think of you often. Jen