Posts Tagged ‘French’

Collection Spotlight: J. Gentil Papers

Jean Sylvain Gentil (1829-1911)*, a native of France and lifelong proponent of democratic principles, left his country in 1850 as a political exile following imprisonment and expulsion by Emperor Napoleon III. Gentil settled in Saint James Parish, Louisiana in 1853 and obtained a professorship of foreign languages at Jefferson College, a small Catholic school. Following the Civil War, Gentil continued his political activism by partnering with Armand Victor Romain to produce the weekly Le Louisianais. In 1881, Gentil sold Le Louisianais to André Roman and Paul Grima, who continued producing the newspaper until 1883. Gentil subsequently owned La Démocratie française of New Orleans and wrote articles for various other publications. In addition to political pieces, Gentil composed a great deal of poetry throughout his life.

The J. Gentil Papers consists of three handwritten documents, all of them in French. The leather-bound volume, titled “Chants de L’exil,” includes sixteen poems or songs. It is unclear if the entries are gathered or the original work of Gentil; entries list a geographic location and date. The other two documents, “Instruction et Avenir” and an untitled manuscript, refer to “College de la Louisiane” and “University de la Louisiane” respectively, suggesting the texts are commencement speeches.

Researchers can view the documents online here or request the original manuscripts by consulting with archives staff. Loyola University Special Collections & Archives is located on the third floor of Monroe Library and is open for research and quiet study Monday-Friday, 9:00-4:30.


*In his book Les écrits de langue française en Louisiane au XIXe siècle, Edward Larocque Tinker presents Gentil’s full name as Jean-Sylvain Gentil; however, Gentil signed himself “J. Gentil” or used one of his noms de plume, which included Jean Gribouille, J. Gringoire, J. Gueux, J. G. jardinier (or, jardinier louisianais), and Simplex.


Found in the Archives is a recurring series of crazy cool stuff found in the Monroe Library’s Special Collections & Archives.

Le Samouraï

Le Samouraï. Melville, Jean-Pierre. [Irvington, N.Y.] : Criterion Collection, c2005.

Call Number: DVD-001488

Le Samouraï

Le Samouraï

Le Samouraï directed by Jean-Pierre Melville and originally released on October 25, 1967 in France.   Starring: Aalin Delon, François Périer, Nathalie Delon, and Caty Rosier

Sparse, monochromatic, grey sits the one room Parisian apartment.  This is the apartment of Jef Costello, a ritualistic, solitary hit man.  Jean-Pierre Melville’s minimalist film noir Le Samouraï, is an exercise in visual storytelling.  The characters actions carry the narrative.  Dialog is used sparingly.  It’s a world of trench coats, piano bars, car thieves, double-cross and deceit.  Melville’s focus centers on Costello, an unrelenting monolith of coolness no matter the situation.  Despite the dizzying array of bad guys and cops out to take him down, Costello moves forward with calm efficient grace to carry out the current task hand.

So if you enjoy noir, French New Wave, or stylish visual story telling, be sure add Le Samouraï to your list of must see movies.

Michelle Melancon, Bindery Specialist (Baking With Medusa at Blogspot)

Novels in Three Lines by Felix Fénéon

Fénéon, Felix. Novels in Three Lines. New York: New York Review of Books, 2007.
ISBN: 9781590172308
Call number: PQ2611 .E565 N613 2007

In 1906, French anarchist, art critic, and former clerk Felix Fénéon went to work for Le Matin, a Paris broadsheet, where he wrote the small news clips known as “faits divers” – sometimes translated as “hard facts”. Never more than a few lines, they covered the outliers of the everyday: oddities, obituaries, and accidents. Today, we would call these “Short Takes” or “News in Brief” and they’d be in a sidebar or tucked away on A17.

Fénéon’s faits divers are, instead, a world unto themselves. Consider this example:

On the bowling lawn a stroke leveled M. André, 75, of Levallois. While his ball was still rolling he was no more.

Or my favorite passage, this one:

The sinister prowler seen by the mechanic Gicquel near Herblay train station has been identified: Jules Ménard, snail collector.

There isn’t much to say, to add, to this work. Fénéon himself wrote anonymously, these stories saved only by the attention of his mistress who clipped them from the paper. He never published any of his own work in his lifetime, despite being closely tied to the vibrant intellectual culture of Paris and championing artists like Georges Seurat and Paul Signac. It stands to reason that one could easily read these works as trifles or period pieces. Just as easily, however, can they sit with Nietzsche’s aphorisms of The Gay Science or Stein’s poetic experiments of Tender Buttons.

And by way of final recommendation, allow me to direct you toward the Fénéon Twitter feed, which is, in its own way, nearly perfect.

-Phil Rollins, Learning Technologies Developer (prllns on Goodreads)