France: a country without literature


Madame de Pompadour as patron of arts and letters


“She” (that’s your servant) “comes from a country” (France) “which has produced VERY little of what I consider literature compared to teeny British Isles!”

A short story and a big laugh about what happened to me this week.


I belong to a rather large number of reading groups or lists online. People read and discuss books and authors or books from one author. The groups and lists have various intellectual levels. I have been participating in one of these groups for more than year and became increasingly restless and angry because this was not a reading group but a super fan group worshipping an abscure British authoress who wrote some good light romantic novels and more that are less good until, down the scale, very bad fiction that would have been better left in obscurity.

Some of her publishers agree as they let her resurrected titles slowly die again until what they hope will be extinction of the stock.

I said so.

And, tired of eternal vacillations and speculations that were coming back again and again after I had given the solution to sort out the issue last year – but obviously without result -, I added some sentences about the lack of seriousness of the reading and researching – if research was really made, which I doubted – by some members of the group who made themselves leaders, while others were meekly following, a fact called the “herd phenomenon”.

This started a great hulla-balloo, and, of course, I was expelled from the group, with collateral damages.

The good ladies started being – let’s say – slightly paranoid, and saw me everywhere: they banned innocent people from their facebook fan writer page, thinking I was masquerading behind new aliases, all the time discussing among themselves openly – which was sad for the banned persons but awfully funny for me. I only stayed and kept quiet and read everything.

They even told another group, also on facebook – group that is usually mild and very nice – whose administrators banned an impecunious Croatian lady to whom I had been talking in order to send her spare copies of books she had no money to buy. But the good American, Canadian and British ladies thought that I was talking to myself, pretending I was an alias and the Croatian lady. They were crediting me with an agility to manoeuvre facebook from which I would have had to log in and log out at the rhythm of a conversation! At the same time, they declared that the Croatian lady was “fishy”, therefore she and I were the same and that no book should be given. Off with our (heads – would have said the Red Queen)!

I discovered I was clever, indeed.

But the funniest thing was the note sent by one member, British and proud of it, who wrote it very seriously, to the administrators of the reading group online (not facebook), copied and pasted it and sent iit again as an e-mail to one of her buddies on the list – forgetting that she was mading it open to all eyes. The note included the sentence I posted at the beginning of this blog entry:

“She” (your servant) “comes from a country” (France) “which has produced VERY little of what I consider literature compared to teeny British Isles!”

Therefore, dear friends and readers, do remember: France has produced VERY little literature… Push it a little further and you may consider that this country has neither culture nor civilisation…


renoir - la liseuse verte
La Liseuse Verte (Renoir)

13 thoughts on “France: a country without literature

  1. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, as my great aunt used to say. I’m afraid a lot of people in groups are like that. My sister once worked for a children’s hospital, where the ladies in charge (it was a charitable organisation) split into two factions and, rather than let their rivals take the credit for the annual children’s Christmas party, decided to cancel it altogether. My sister was fuming! In this case, it makes for a good laugh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I confess that I have been fuming and smarting almost all week. I did not think I would be sosensitive when someone would attack my country.
      It was distressing for this lady from Croatia who was calling out for friendship and books. But she gave me her e-mail address before we were both banned.
      Therefore, it is only a good laugh and a good story for the end of the week! No casualties.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. This is what I answered. But then, I thought it would be better to let it go… I do not think that this lady knows about the wealth of the British literature itself.
    No country has very little literature or culture. This is a narrow view of the world. No reason to answer, but a funny good story!


  3. Bonjour, Camille, and thank you for stopping by my blog. While I’m sorry things took a nasty turn with your online book club, I’m glad you’ve come around to the humor in it and have shared the story with us. Who knew members could be suspected of such subterfuge in an online book club! 😉


  4. Yes, but I’m an reader of English. How many French authors have written a lot of literature in English,hmm? 😉 Sorry, I think small minded people are funny sometimes. Obviously the leaders of this group have never had any real responsibility in their lives and so feel threatened when it is suggested they aren’t perfect.Sorry you had such a bad experience with them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It smarted for my country.
      Even as English reader, you have probably never heard of this rather obscure authoress – nothing to do with Virginia Woolf or George Eliot! And the whole question was that France had created nothing in matter of literature that would be comparable to the writings of the obscure English lady.
      Even if you do not read in French, I guess yoou have a vague idea that there are writers over there, as there are writers in the UK, in the USA, in Russia, Germany, Spain, Italy, India, China, and so on. As the French are aware of literature in the UK, USA, Russia, etc.
      In whatever language and though whatever means we all know that there has been and still is literature, culture (civilisatio perhaps?) in our neighbours’ countries.
      I expect that for fan groups like this one, there is nothing but their fave author. A very narrow view of the world.
      There are lots of them in the blogosphere and in the world at large and I see through this how groups may moulded to fit the ambitions of demagogues (or populists) – as they were on the eve of WWII.
      Funny and frightening at the same time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I, for one, am not afraid of Virginia Woolf (reference to a play and a movie 😉 ) As I said, small minded people… In many ways it depends on what you want to get from the reading group. I tend to avoid them, but understand the appeal.

        I hope you got my little joke in my first response. I know all cultures have their great literature. I did a lot of research before my first visit to France and was shocked at how little I knew of it’s history and culture. The English speaking world seems to skip 99.9% of French history, only talking about the wars from a very English perspective and acting like when England wasn’t at war with France, France didn’t exist at all and England was the heart of Europe. Uhm, yeah, through most of history France played a much larger role in Europe than England and was usually far in advance in most areas. Oh well, I think most places teach history in a very one sided fashion. People form Europe and the US know so little about Asia and China while there is a longer continuity of history there than in the West.

        The translations of Hugo are huge here, and not just in length 😉 Every reader of English knows The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Misérables so there is no excuse. Again, the group seems to be composed of small minded people.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I am not afraid of Virginia Woolf either! And I got your joke. But it seems it smarts much I thought it would…
        Oh, well it will pass. 🙂
        I joined a number of online literary group because … there is no one nearby who speaks and reads English and even who is ready to read a book in French that has a life span wider than six months.
        W truly live in a village that offers activities but not to my taste. I have tried to help the newsagent to create a newsetter to promote his book section – to no avail: he sells these loval books, which habe a very short life. I siggested a vook group: no answer.
        Blogging and reading with other people seemed the best solution to avoid absolute solitude. It is.
        There is one funny narrow-minded group from time to time…

        Liked by 1 person

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