[lit-ideas] Girardiana

  • From: "" <dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> (Redacted sender "Jlsperanza" for DMARC)
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 5 Nov 2015 22:16:15 -0500

Geary was showing some interest in a very French author: the late Girard.

In a message dated 11/5/2015 4:23:48 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
jejunejesuit.geary2@xxxxxxxxx writes:
Is his work available in English?

Everything is available in English, if you think of it --. The ending -able
means 'possible'. This does not mean that one can avail oneself of Girard
in English. But he is, by definition of all words ending in -able,
available in English.

The late René Noël Théophile Girard was born in Avignon, of the infamous

He studied medieval history at the École des Chartes in Paris. It is called
"des Chartes", to confuse people, including French people -- especially
the students' parents -- since it sounds pretentious.

The subject of his thesis was "La vie privée à Avignon dans la seconde
moitié du XVe siècle".

He discusses the bridge, etc.

After Paris, Girard went to Indiana, in what he called "the new World".

The subject of his PhD at Indiana University was "American Opinion of
France, 1940–1943".

He base his dissertation on what Americans opined of France between three
years ("I found out that they would accept almost anything at Indiana --
they didn't even question me what I meant by 'France'," he would later recall.

His thesis is in English since it is a requisite in Indiana (which
literally means, "related to the Indians") to write in English, rather than in
"Indian" -- "Odd that," Girard wrote in his diary).

Although Girard's research was in history, he was also assigned to teach
French literature -- which really meant French language. In many American
universities, furriners are TOLD they are teaching literature, when they are
only language instructors!

Girard received his PhD in 1950 and stayed at Indiana ("I liked the
landscape," he later recollected).

He also occupied important French positions at both Duke and Bryn Mawr
after which he moved to Johns Hopkins.

"In all these places, I was asked to speak American _and_ French, and did
both: I tended to speak American with a French accent, and, as my mother
told me, French with an American accent. She thought I was schizophrenic."

His first essay was in French: Mensonge romantique et vérité romanesque,
translated as "Deceit, Desire and the Novel" ("I was never asked to specify
what novel I was thinking of.")

For several years, Girard moved back and forth between the State University
of New York (at Buffalo) and Johns Hopkins.

The two most important books published in this period are "Violence and the
Sacred"", and "Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World" -- both in

Later, he became the Andrew B. Hammond Professor of French Language,
Literature, and Civilization at Stanford.

"I was never asked what Hammond made by civilisation, but we assume
Napoleone, the Corsican."

During this period, he wrote "A Theatre of Envy: William Shakespeare" --
"Deep down, I envied Shakespeare, but tried to turn the title of my essay
into something obscure in the typical French manner.")


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