Home > 1970, 20th Century, French Literature, Gary, Romain, Novel, Wednesdays with Gary > Wednesdays with Romain Gary: the end

Wednesdays with Romain Gary: the end

Gary_LecturesThis is our last Wednesday with Romain Gary. Gary loved women and was a womaniser. Being successful with the ladies was a proof of a good education by his mother’s book. A man had to be charming. He wrote wonderful pages about love, attraction and relationships in many of his books. For our last week, I picked a quote from Les clowns lyriques about perfume:

Le parfum à peine perceptible, à peine esquissé, est comme un murmure prometteur du corps ; lorsqu’il insiste trop, il ne parle plus que de lui-même, ne livre plus que son propre nom. A perfume that is barely perceptible, barely hinted at is like a promising murmur of a body; when it is too persistent, it no longer speaks about anything except itself, it reveals nothing but its own name. Translation reviewed by Erik McDonald

Isn’t that entirely true? I’m sensitive to smells and scents and I hate to have my personal space invaded by a strong perfume. Like in offices, lifts, train carriages or other closed spaces. Some cologne scream “I’m cheap” and I always think that nothing would be better than this too-much. Some perfume scream “Look at me” and I’m not sure they bring the looks they meant to capture. I associate perfumes with the people who wear them and I wouldn’t want my husband to use the same cologne as my father. Some perfumes remind me of teachers because a classroom is exactly the kind of place where you smell perfumes, which reminds me there’s a funny scene in Straight Man by Richard Russo where the main character acts crazy after a colleague’s heady perfume meddled with his sanity.

But perfumes are also familiar scents, bringing comfort because they belong to someone you love.

I hope this series of billets encouraged you to read Romain Gary. See you tomorrow with the official opening of Romain Gary Literature Month.

I can’t resist: a last quote for the day!

[C’était] un de ces bouquets de fleurs qui partent toujours à la recherche d’un cœur et ne trouvent qu’un vase.Au-delà de cette limite votre ticket n’est plus valable. [It was] one of those flower bouquets that always reach out for a heart and only find a vase.In Your Ticket Is No Longer Valid.


  1. April 30, 2014 at 8:52 am

    Beautiful quote, Emma! Makes me think of Patrick Süskind’s novel ‘Perfume’. Can’t wait to Romain Gary literature month to start!


    • May 1, 2014 at 2:32 am

      I remember The Perfume. What a disturbing book.
      I enjoyed doing the Wednesdays series, it was fun. I hope each quote gave an idea of Gary’s literary flavour.


      • May 3, 2014 at 1:41 pm

        I loved the ‘Wednesdays with Romain Gary’ series, Emma! Thanks for that! I just started ‘Promise at Dawn’ and it is really wonderful! That French edition though – I am really coveting it 🙂


        • May 4, 2014 at 2:38 pm

          This new edition is great. I think I’ll buy it, even if I already have a Gallimard edition of La Promesse de l’aube.
          I’m looking forward to reading your post about Promise at Dawn, Vishy.


  2. April 30, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    I haven’t read Les clowns lyriques, but someday, I really want to. It’s a pity that most of his novels have no English translations (and the ones that are in English are out of print unfortunately) You French are very lucky. C’mon, world, give this fantastic man a chance. You won’t be disappointed.

    Here’s my farewell quote from Pseudo. I won’t forget Wednesdays with Romain Gary. Romain Gary is HOPE. Thanks for everything, Emma.

    “I got up and lit a hope, to make some light and see a bit less clearly. Sorry, a match. Never confess. I didn’t switch on because the electrics stay on permanently, whereas a match goes out quite quickly, so you have to take another one, which gives a second hope and second dose of relief, and so on. There are fifty civilizations in a box of matches, it’s got fifty times more hope than a single flick of a switch.”

    See ya.


    • May 1, 2014 at 2:38 am

      Some of his books can be found on Amazon US, in cheap used copies.
      You’re right, Gary is hope. It’s his eternal flame. Thanks for that quote. I haven’t read Pseudo yet. Do you have the version translated by David Bellos?


      • May 1, 2014 at 11:33 am

        I have nearly all of them and yes David Bellos’ translation is great, someday he should translate Gros-Calin as well. I wish that. I even sent him an email for that once but he never replied so far lol, he’s a busy man I guess, well, I’ll keep dreaming. Also I have to check out his-Romain Gary: A Tall Story sometime.


        • May 4, 2014 at 2:25 pm

          I hope he’ll translated Gros Câlin too. Perec’s translator is the designated candidate to translate this Ajar; there are so many puns and references that it requires a good translator.
          I hope someone will be reading and reviewing his Gary’s biography; I’m curious about it.


  3. April 30, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    Don’t forget the powerful pheromones one can’t consciously detect!

    I’m all set with my Gary/Ajar for tomorrow.


    • May 1, 2014 at 2:40 am

      I know about the pheromones but Gary wouldn’t want to think about them. Too scientific, it destroys the poetry of love.
      I’m glad you’re with us for Gary Literature Month. Will you publish a review?


  4. June 6, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    I’ve lost your email address. but I’m hoping this question reaches you. As a bilingual devotee of Romain Gary, you are well equipped to help my French reading group in translating a difficult sentence for us. It’s from La Promesse de l’aube, the last sentence of chapter 4. “Je me connais en vrais diamants.”
    Thanks in advance for any input you might provide,


    • June 6, 2015 at 4:18 pm

      hello David,

      Nice to hear from you again. How are you doing?
      This sentence in La Promesse de l’aube means “I know a lot about true diamonds”. The paragraph refers to his mother. She loved him too much and too well and he kept looking for the same kind of love his whole life.
      I hope it helps.


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