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Quote of the Day: Jean-Paul Sartre


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23 hours ago, MoseySusan said:

No Exit was my senior Lit essay text. 

No Exit was an adventure for me.  I had to read it in French for a college French 202 class.

My French 202 class had five students: four girls and me.  That was fun except for the several times all four girls didn't show up and I hadn't done my homework well.  Our French Professor, Madame Roswell who had lived in France, held class anyway with one student and, of course, everything had to be discussed in French - no English was allowed.

One such one-student class happened while we began reading Huis clos (No Exit).  So I had to struggle for an hour, speaking in French about the characters knowing they were in Hell, wondering where the fire and torture stuff was, wondering about each other, and then finally realizing their hell was having to live their afterlives stuck in a room forever with people they couldn't stand.  Every bit that I hadn't studied enough - including some obscure words I hadn't bothered to look up - was uncovered in that hour, but Madame was patient.

The next class, before Madame came into the classroom, I bitched at the girls for skipping class and making me cover the whole thing myself.  They said the homework was hard, they hadn't done it all either, but they figured I'd be stupid enough to show up for class anyway and get that discussion out of the way.  I told them they all owed me a big favor, but they didn't fall for it.

Because there were no handy computer translators in the 70's, American Chemistry Majors had to pass a fluency test (or pass a college 202 level course) in French, German, or Russian: the three languages of major foreign chemistry journals.  In the 8th grade had a nun teacher, Sister Dolorice, who was from Quebec. It was our Catholic school's only foreign language course, and so I got channeled into French as my foreign language, long before I knew that would help me become the chemist I had wanted to be since age 12.

34 years later, in Sacre Coeur church on top of Montmartre in Paris, I attended a mass with three relatives and when they said the Lord's Prayer in French out loud, I still remembered how to say it, thanks to that 8th grade Sister Dolorice. The other three were amazed.

Lo-res vid of that mass before an attendant made me turn the camera off:


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