Home > French Literature, Gary, Romain, Personal Posts, Wednesdays with Gary > Wednesdays with Romain Gary – Part Six

Wednesdays with Romain Gary – Part Six

February 19, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

Le mercredi, c’est Gary! (It’s better in French, it rhymes)

Rien ne vous isole plus que de tendre la main fraternelle de l’humour à ceux qui, à cet égard, sont plus manchots que des pingouins. Nothing is more isolating than to hold out the brotherly hand of humour to people who are, in this respect, as awkward as auks. Translation by Erik McDonald.

Gary_LecturesThis quote is difficult to translate and I owe it to Erik to have found a good translation. In French, a manchot is a one-armed man, a penguin and a clumsy person. A pingouin is an auk. In this quote, Gary means that someone who lacks a good sense of humour is like a one-armed man. They’ve got a disability that prevents them to shake hand with someone reaching out offering humour and fun. They are missing out on a vital part of life and they are clumsy because they can’t navigate through life as easily without that help. I love the imagery in this quote. I picture someone who’s clumsy, wobbling through life and lacking dexterity in their dealings with life. If anyone finds a pun to replace the plus manchots que des pingouins, leave a suggestion in the comment section. It’s been nagging at me for a while but my English isn’t good enough to find a good one.

Humour is a theme often mentioned in Gary’s books. A good sense of humour is precious. It’s a weapon against others who take themselves too seriously. It’s an asset for someone who’s in a predicament as it helps you distancing yourself from the situation you’re in. It’s a medicine to heal when reality is falling hard on you. Self-deprecation is a jack to put you out of your misery. Gary has a sense of humour à la Woody Allen. You find Woddy Allen comical? You think Philip Roth is funny? You’ll like Romain Gary too and you’ll see what I mean about Gary and humour if you join us to our Let’s read Romain Gary event in May.

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