Hogtied in the Hexagon? Part 2
Our choice of 15 Books to help you better understand France.
First of all what is “hogtied”? To hogtie is an Americanism that goes back to about 1890 literally meaning to tie an animal, in particular a hog, with all four feet together. Figuratively the phrase mean to thwart or hamper. So here is part 2 of our list of 15 books that’ll help you feel less bewildered in France.
What is the Hexagon? The Hexagon is a nickname for France! (due to the mainland’s nearly hexagonal shape)
Memoirs of Hadrian
Memoirs of Hadrian is a novel by the Belgian-born French writer Marguerite Yourcenar, the first woman ever elected to the Académie française (1980). It is about the life and death of Roman Emperor Hadrian.
The book takes the form of a letter to Hadrian’s cousin and eventual successor «Mark» (Marcus Aurelius). The emperor meditates on military triumphs, love of poetry and music, philosophy, and his passion for his lover Antinous.
«Les poètes nous transportent dans un monde plus vaste ou plus beau, plus ardent ou plus doux que celui qui nous est donné, différent par là même, et en pratique presque inhabitable.»
You could skip reading this book but you would miss out on some of the best French writing in the past 100 years.
Le Petit Prince
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
A tender tale of loneliness, friendship, love, and loss, in the form of a young prince fallen to Earth.
The Little Prince, first published in 1943, is a novella, the most famous work of French aristocrat, writer, poet, and pioneering aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900–1944).
Voted the best book of the 20th century in France, The Little Prince has been translated into 300 languages and dialects (as well as Braille), selling nearly two million copies annually with sales totaling over 140 million copies worldwide; it has become one of the best-selling books ever published.
Asterix the Gaul
René Goscinny (stories) and Albert Uderzo (illustrations)
Asterix the Gaul is the first volume of the Asterix comic strip series.
The year is 50BC, and all Gaul is occupied. Only one small village of indomitable Gauls still holds out against the invaders. But how much longer can Asterix, Obelix and their friends resist the mighty Roman legions of Julius Caesar? Anything is possible, with a little cunning plus the druid Getafix’s magic potions!
In Le Monde’s 100 Books of the 20th Century list Asterix the Gaul is listed as the 23rd greatest book of the century.
Les tops de la France
Olivier Bauer, Sandrine Mirza and Jean-Michel Billioud
A gold mine of information ! 320 flash pages take you on a geographical and historical tour de France. Landscapes, regions, cities, natural parks, key dates, remarkable monuments and major characters. Fun and convivial for the 7 to 77.
French or Foe?: Getting the Most Out of Visiting, Living and Working in France
Polly Platt, cultural diva.
Polly-vous francais? If you’ve ever wanted to know why the French do what they do then you should definitely read this book. Platt covers many facets of French life a visitor would encounter: male/female relationships, entertaining, the office, education, food, a little history and even more. It is a few years old but there are some great basics here that any visitor to France would do well to know. A fascinating look at France and its culture!
Part three of this article will be out next week.
More great new books about France and other subjects can be found in our book corner.