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Learning Only To Read

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20 messages over 3 pages: 1 2
United States
Joined 1732 days ago

8 posts - 15 votes
Studies: French

 Message 17 of 20
17 September 2015 at 6:22am | IP Logged 
Proust took perseverance to get through in English, so I know I am biting off a lot. No doubt this will be a
several year project.

I've already read a bit of L'Étranger. It's surprisingly accessible given the limited time I've been studying
French. Must be why it's one of the go to recommendations for new French readers. Still yet, I'm not able to
get through some paragraphs without an English translation as a crutch. Much work ahead, but I enjoy the
labor so I'm optimistic about at least reaching my French goal.

Edited by Striver on 18 September 2015 at 5:08am

1 person has voted this message useful

United States
Joined 4185 days ago

36 posts - 83 votes 
Speaks: English*

 Message 18 of 20
17 September 2015 at 4:42pm | IP Logged 
Striver wrote:
I've already read a bit of L'Étranger. It's surprisingly accessible
given the limited time I've been studying

Two recommendations for after you finish L'Étranger.

Philippe Claudel's La petite fille de Monsieur Linh is a lovely short novel in
the literary fiction genre about an elderly Vietnamese immigrant to France, his
granddaughter, and the unlikely friendship he strikes up with a grieving French
widower, despite their language barrier. Its degree of difficulty is similar to
L'Étranger. Here's an Amazon link: Monsieur-Livre-French/dp/2253115541/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1 442499817&sr=8-
1&keywords=la+petite+fille+de+monsieur+linh">La petite fille de Monsieur Linh

Slightly more difficult, but not much, is Nobel Laureate J.M.G. Le Clezio's Mondo et
autres histoires
, which is a collection of dream-like short stories in which
children live outside the structures of normal societies. At Amazon:
1&keywords=mondo+et+autres+histoires">Mondo et autres histoires

Good luck.

(Edit: you'll have to remove the spaces in the link)

Edited by obsculta on 17 September 2015 at 4:43pm

3 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
United States
Joined 3254 days ago

1386 posts - 3054 votes 
Speaks: English*, French, Marshallese
Studies: Italian, Spanish

 Message 19 of 20
06 October 2015 at 4:26am | IP Logged 
Striver wrote:
Reading La Recherche du Temps Perdu is my ultimate
goal with French, but I hope to read at least a little from several great
francophone authors.

I'm a novice at language study, but I am a life long book worm.
Ultimately, I'd like to pursue a temporal/familial course of study so I
can read all the great literature that I've read in translation. Start
with French to read Prost et al. then work my way through Spanish for
Marques and Cervante, Italian for Dante, then Latin for Tacitus, Caesar.
Then go through the Germanic languages for Kafka and Kierkegaard. Then
Slavic for all the great Russian lit. The ultimate goal being Koine and
classical Greek and ancient Hebrew for the Bible and Plato, Aeschylus,

I'm not sure if it's realistic or how long it will take, but it seems
like an excellent life's work.

It sounds like a great life's work - and we have similar ambitions!

My experience is that it takes about a year of standard studying before I can start
working on actual novels. I've tried to start earlier, but it's just frustrating.
During the second year I usually focus mostly on reading, and find that I can make
rapid progress if I aim for 50 + pages / week.

I agree 100% with those that recommended to use a lot of audio in the beginning. It
really will help a lot with the reading. It helps in understanding the cadences of
the language. Sometimes, if I stumble over a passage, I can slow down and re-read it
semi-aloud & find it makes sense.


Proust is amazing, but slow going! There was a reading club on Goodreads that took a
full year to read À la recherche du temps perdu in English. Who knows how many
years it will take me in French. I read the first book about three years ago, and I
just started the fourth (Le Côté de Guermantes II) last month. I took a lot of
breaks, but I've gotten so used to his style now, and I'm so enmeshed in the story,
that I might binge and finish the whole series before Spring.

There are so many great French writers - you could spend a lifetime just reading the
classics here.


Italian for Dante is tricky. I've read the Inferno, but was totally reliant on an
English parallel translation. I was in an Italian bookstore, and saw a copy of
Purgatorio where the text had footnotes in modern Italian. I really wish I had picked
it up then; I haven't seen anything like it on Amazon. If you see a copy like this
grab it!

I haven't tackled any other Italian classics, but for modern works Primo Levi should
be on everyone's reading list.   Dino Buzzati is very accessible, Umberto Eco is
easier than I thought he would be, and Italo Calvino is challenging. I hear good
things about Elsa Morante.


I spent a year struggling through Homer. It was rewarding, but super hard and I don't
think I retained much.   My new plan is to tackle the Greek classics from the other
direction; I'll learn a bit of modern Greek and then work backwards through Koine to
the Golden Age and then, maybe, one day when I'm 70, I'll try Homer again.

German, Spanish, and maybe Latin & Russian are others on my long-term with list. It
matches up pretty closely with yours - good luck!

4 persons have voted this message useful

United States
Joined 1732 days ago

8 posts - 15 votes
Studies: French

 Message 20 of 20
06 October 2015 at 5:02am | IP Logged 
Thanks for the great post Kanewai. Always glad to hear from likeminded others.

I finished l'etranger. It took some doing but I think I gained a lot. Since finishing it I've been listening to the book on audio, reread random pages on a whim, and done a bit of LR. Also been doing a vocab course for the book on Memrise. My comprehension keeps moving forward.

I'm also working my way through Le Petit Prince. It's a touch easier than L'etranger - maybe because it is a simpler book or I'm a bit more experienced - but I find it to be a much more enjoyable work to be sure. La renard is very wise.

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