September 02, 2012

ドレフュス事件ー大佛次郎 Jiro Osaragi - Dreyfus Affair



I read some stories by Jiro Osaragi, a Japanese novelist. He also wrote some non-fictions and among them there are the Four Works of France; "Dreyfus Affair", "Panama Scandals", "Paris on fire", and "The Tragedy of General Boulanger". I thought it would be good to learn about the history of France through the Japanese writer's point of view. I would like to read the rest of his works as soon as possible... although I have to go to a library because all of them are out of print.

This time, I borrowed "Jiro Osaragi Collection" so I also read "Muteki (foghorn)" and "Return to Home". They are all very interesting and I devoted in reading while my child was playing alone or taking a nap.

book『霧笛』Muteki (Foghorn)book


This title is used as the name of the cafe next to the Museum of Jiro Osaragi in Yokohama. The setting is in Yamate, Yokohama, where many foreigners lived after the opening of this country about 150 years ago. So there appears many names of places in Yokohama so it was very interesting for me to imagine how it looked like in a hundred and some years ago in Yokohama...
The story is about a British man (master) who lived in Yamate and do some trading business and a Japanese servant, and there are some thrilling scenes in it.

By the way, my grandma said she "served" at some place in Honmoku. I have no idea where she served at. She disliked foreign countries particularly the U.S. and China, where, in contrary, I was interested and visited several times when I was a student. She gave me some money before I left, so I was confused what to buy for her as souvenirs because I was sure she wouldn't like anything from the two countries. As she was good at sewing, I bought back some silk and she made a blouse with it (maybe unwillingly?). After somebody gave her some compliments on it, she turned happy to wear it.
I was wondering if she had any bad experience with foreigners when she was young since she lived not very far from those housing area. She was calling China Town "nankin machi", too. It's my biggest regret that I didn't ask her about these things and about the war in detail...

book『ドレフュス事件』Dreyfus Affairbook


Mr. Dreyfus is from Mulhouse, Alsace, where the ancestor of Carl is from, so I was more interested in this affair and even felt some connection.
It's very complicated and I am not sure if I can describe in a right way, but Mr. Dreyfus was suspected as a German spy, the military couldn't admit their false judgement, so Mr. Dreyfus was sent to an island where he spent many years physically, mentally suffered, and those who tried to defend him were also in danger. France lost Alsace=Lorraine after the war and the people had to choose to be German or French. As Mr.Dreyfus's elder brother decided to stay there to be German and keep the family, he and another brother chose to be French and he served for the military. However there was negative feelings toward Jewish people and that one of the reasons that caused the false arrest according to the story.
He was brought to the court again in five years and then offered a pardon and was finally released. After some more years, he was fully exonerated at last. Among the supporting friends of Zora, who accused the cover-ups of the military, there was Monet.

As a Japanese, I don't understand what being Jewish matters really (it's not always easy to tell if one is Jewish or not from the outside, either) ... The story was published in early Showa period (1930) and I heard that he was trying to warn Japanese society... how dangerous it would be that the military has power on politics.

「帰郷」Return to Home
This story starts from right before the end of the world war two in south Asia, and after the war in Japan. The main character carried out some fraud with other soldiers in army and he ran away wearing all the guilt on him, then he met his daughter in Japan. There were various attractive characters and it was interesting.


January 19, 2011

めざせパティシエ Patissier wannabe

We ordered a DVD box for Pierre on and I also bought some recipe books.

Dessert :Trop Bons (デセール:おいしすぎ)の本は、前回フランスに行った時fnacで買ったんだけど、他にもシリーズがあることを知って、欲しい!!と思っていました。
I bought "Dessert :Trop Bons last time we visited France (at fnac), and I found there're other versions and really wanted them.

今回は、This time
bookChocolat :Desserts + Mignardises (ショコラ:デセールと繊細)
bookPetits Gateaux:(小さなお菓子)
bookMon Pain :Nature, Sans gluten, Brioche(私のパン:天然、グルテン不使用、ブリオッシュ)
bookPatisserie :Facile(お菓子:かんたん)

I was so excited just looking at the photos! I asked Carl what is the difference between gateaux, patisserie and dessert before, but there are some recipes which are almost the same in those books.

ちなみに、In addition
NHK now broadcasts the programme titled "Challenge Hobby" and in Dec-Jan, Sadaharu Aoki, the patissier teaches how to make French sweets. I bought the textbook, too!

I think I am gaining fat again... but as I have a little baby, it's cold outside and I still feel a little sick, I stay home most of the day and cooking is one of my important hobby.
I don't think I wait for the new house and kitchen... I'll try some recipes.

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September 30, 2009

The Geography of Thought

The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently...and Why
by Richard Nisbett














When I'm at my parents', I have nothing special to do so I spend more time for reading. It is a kind of nice to have chance to read the books I bought or started to read but haven't finished yet. This is one of them. I got this book when I was at graduate school but it contains a lot of quotations from other thesis and it felt like reading a thesis (which is not really easy).

The teacher at the grad-school talked about a survey which is written on this book. As you can guess from the title, it is about Westerners and East Asians and what the teacher said was we need different approaches for each people in education (especially for language education!) since their thoughts are quite different.

It is also said in the book that although there were many Japanese people who were good at maths and science (and they're supposed to be hard-working also), Japanese kids who studied at school in the states are sometimes labeled as "dropouts". It is because the pedagogy and evaluation system are different in both countries.

The author quoted various surveys/experiments (including his) and compares Westerners (mostly European Americans in latter chapters) and East Asians (China, Korea, Japan, HongKong, Taiwan etc..) in each chapter. As an Asian, it was really interesting to read the book as it was written by a "Westerner" in a "Western language".

By the way, the experiment which my teacher quoted in the class was to show pictures of fish in the water to American and Japanese students and have them describe the scene. Many Americans focused on the fish but Japanese described about the background as much as they did to the fish. Perhaps, if I were the examinee, I would start from the background as "it's like a pond or an aquarium...". In that chapter, the author said that Westerners focuses on objects and Easterners looks at a whole thing.

And being logical is important for Westerners while Easterners think much of common sense. Easterners try to avoid conflicts and go Middle Way, while Westerners prefer to judge YES or NO. Well, Japanese people are famous for their excessive use of "Excuse me"...

If you are to divide "Monkey, Panda, Banana" in two groups, how would you do?

I thought, "Monkey, Panda" and "Banana". Animals vs Fruit. But the book said it's a Western way of thinking (in addition, the result may be affected by the language...I read in English so it might have been affected). In other word, "the categorization by its feature".

I asked my family (Japanese) and they answered "Monkey, Banana" and "Panda". It's very Asian since they focused on the "relation" which is "Monkeys like bananas".

I also asked Carl (FYI, Westerner) (but in Japanese..) and he answered "Monkey, Banana" and "Panda" (!!). But he explained, "There's the monkey who loves bananas in "The Story of Babar" books which I often read in my childhood".... Well, it can't be a sample.

It should be fun to pose this question to your friends!

Although Carl is very much "Japanized" now, we have different backgrounds and it is very important to learn those differences. Particularly as we are expecting a baby, who will be raised in two cultures...
I was also freaked out to found that I tend to think Western stuff is always good/right. I also thought the same thing reading "Translation and Modern Japan" almost at the same time, that we over-use foreign words in our society (for example, we use an English word instead of the Japanese one which means the same). I would like to learn from Western but also respect our own tradition and culture.

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August 09, 2009

Merde Actually

Stephen Clarke Merde Actually

以前、Talk To the Snakeという本を読みましたが、同じフランスに暮らすイギリス人作家の本です。これはPaul Westというイギリス人が主人公のほぼフィクション。「ほぼ」というのは、かなり生々しい(?)フランスならではのエピソードが出てくるので、体験談では?と。
This book was written by a British writer who lives in France and I also read his book Talk To the Snake before. This book is almost a fiction of a British man called Paul West. I mean "almost" as there appears many authentic (?) episodes about France which make me doubt if it's on his own experience.

It was again Carl who bought this book at a stand in Gare du Nord when we were heading for Belgium. And I read it after we came home. Paul is a very unlucky guy and he acts like stupid sometimes but the book will make you dislike France... Even if he wasn't the main character, I would have a deep sympathy for him.

Paul Westの物語は2作目で、会社を解雇されてからパリで英国喫茶店を開きつつ、運命の女性?を探すような物語です。題名(merde=shit)からして下品ですが、中にもあまり上品とは言えない表現がたくさん出て来ます。でもこの作家の皮肉は結構好きです。例えば、フランス語には「お客様は王様」という表現があるそうですが(本当か!?)、それに対し、「彼ら(フランス人)が自分たちの王様に何をしたか知っている(=ギロチン処刑)」といったものとか。
It's the second book for Paul West and the story is about his opening a British tea room in Paris after he's fired by the company and searching for a right woman. The title (merde=shit) is already impolite and there are many other not so polite expressions in the book. Still I like the author's irony. For example, he wrote that there is an expression French which means "the client is the king" (really?) and Paul said he knew what they (French people) had done to their king (Louis XVI).

After all I thought why he stayed in France over the series of bad experiences... I guess there's something attractive more than that... I couldn't find the attractive parts in the novel, though.

Now, I need to refresh the image of France by remembering the nice people I met in France.

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June 10, 2009



Finally, I finished the book. I found it in Carl's bookshelf and I was to read it when I have time. But one day I found the release day of the film was coming closer and hurried to the bookshelf. It took a month to read the book after all since I didn't have enough time.
I was often confused wondering which is the fact and which is not. But I am sure it makes you feel like traveling to Vatican and Rome.

I read The Da Vinci Code (again, just before the film) but Angels&Demons is much larger than that. The large scale also made me shout "It can't be!!" for many times. Particularly I am not satisfied with:

1) 主人公の教授、命が3つあっても足りなかったと思います。
I think Professor Langdon could have died more than three times.
2) 行動を共にするのは、なんでいつも若い女性なんですか?
Why does he work with a young woman?
3) 後始末はきちんとしましょう。
Don't leave things messed up.


The series of miracles on him made the story cheaper. He was also with an attractive young woman in the novel The Da Vinci Code and they kind of fell in love...I wonder what would happen if his partner was an elder woman or young man (I'd rather want to read that story). There were some things left unclear. I can't help worrying what happened to the man who was kicked out of his car by Langdon although it was an emergency... well, it may not be a big deal though.

Apart from the blames above, the story was exciting. According to Carl (the source is not sure), a new novel will be in stores soon. I'm looking forward to it.

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April 28, 2009

talk to the SNAIL

talk to the SNAIL Stephen Clarke
カールおじさんが貸してくれた本。飛行機で読むように買ったらしい。書き手はフランスで働くイギリス人。他にも、A Year In the Merdeとか、Merde Actuallyといったイギリス人から見たフランスに関する本を出しているそうです。日本語訳も出ています。




もちろんSnail(カタツムリ)はエスカルゴを食べるフランス人のこと。他にもFrog(フランスのFRとカエルを食べることから)とか、Le coq(ニワトリ)とか、ベレー帽もシンボルらしい。


Carl bought this book at an airport (maybe Heathrow) and gave it to me. The auther is a British working in France. He also released books "A Year In Merde" and "Merde Actually"which he wrote about France from British point of view. I found Japanese translations, too.
"Merde" means "shit" in English and is not a polite word. It was Carl who taught me this word but he knows he shouldn't use it, so whenever it is about to slip out, he says "mercredi (wednesday)" to make up.
The fight between France and Britain is famous. As an outsider, it was a fun reading. And it helped me understand (misunderstand?) France and its people. I liked the ironic description very much.

The book is devided into several chapters and each chapters has useful French expressions. I think I can acquire French bad mouth :-p I often speak ill in French with Carl when we encounter rude people on the street (because they won't understand).

Books which analyze a certain group of people (e.g. Blood type B people) are very popular in Japan. I would be interested I find a book about Japan written by a foreigner.

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November 01, 2008


Nicolas Sarkozy: Le manuel vaudou




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August 26, 2007

Sense And Sensibility

Jane Austin Sense and Sensibility


Finally I fiished reading the book I bought many years ago when I visited L.A. I was studying at the Faculty of Literature at college (although my major was language education) and I just wanna say that I have some literature experience(?).

Jane Austinは、イギリスの作家で、18世紀後半くらいかな?「嵐が丘」や「ジェーン・エア」のブロンテ姉妹よりちょこっと前。他にも有名な作品を残しておりまして、中でも「プライドと偏見」は映画を観て、レビューを書きました。

I also saw a film "Pride and Prejudice" and I wrote about the film on this blog before (the link above). Jane Austin died of an illness at the age of 40 or around and was unmarried all her life. Her descpription of each characters are detailed and it makes me sleepy sometimes (because the story doesn't proceed!).


日本語のタイトルは「分別と多感」。Dashwood家の姉妹の長女Elinorと次女Marianneについての話なのですが、長女が「分別」次女が「多感」の人として描かれています。映画にもなったんだけど、私の大好きなKate Winsletやハリポのスネイプ先生Alan RickmanやEmma ThompsonそしてHugh Grantが出ているので、観たくて仕方ないのに、wowowでの放送を何度も見逃してます(;ー;)

The title "sense" stands for the eldest sisiter of Dashwoods and "sensibility" is the second Marianne. I also would love to see the film starring my favorite actress Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman(well-known as Professor Snape of Harry Potter), Emma Thompson(also appears in HP ) and Hugh Grant!!! But I always miss the on-air at WOWOW.


The sisters are respectively in love with young men, but Elinor's love turned out to be engaged to another young lady Lucy. On the other hand, Marrianne's guy is a jerk who had an affair with another girl and she got pregnant. He was cut off by his family and he decided to marry a rich lady (I must say the guys in this novel are all dupes).


Lucy is really a mean and bad girl. On porpose or not, she confessed Elinor her secret engagement and she believes they're friends. Elinor who has the "sense" cannot tell her feeling to anyone although she's badly broken-hearted.


Marianne is very open and direct, and emotional. Her mood is obvious and she bursts into tears in front of other people. And she even became sick because she was too shocked by her loved-one's betrayal. But she realized how stupid she had been when she knew tha fact that Elinor, who took care of her, had been also broken-hearted.


The story ends like "happy ever after". Lucy married Edward's brother who succeeded the fortune as Edward(Elinor's love) was kicked out by her angry mother. Then finally Edward proposed Elinor. She'd thought Lucy and Edward already got married so she was so happy that she couldn't help crying and ran into her own room, showing even she's sometimes become emotional. Marianne married a man who had loved her for long and he's also the man of the "sense".



The noble people at that time, especially women had no way but to marry rich people to survive if they have little fortune.


I unconsciously read the book from Elinor's point of view, which could be the auther's as well. But I think everyone has both "sense" and "sensibility". But I found it hard to keep the balance.

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July 28, 2007

Harry Potter And the Deathly Hallows

At last...I finished it.
Was two years long or short? But I had waited for the release of the seventh and the final book of Harry Potter. I got the first book when I was at a high school so it took so long.

I pre-ordered the book in March at Amazon and when I did the same thing at the sixth book, it was delivered in the morning of the day it was published. But this time I waited, it didn't come, waited round and round... it was delivered in the evening. I thought I could finish reading in two whole days but as it was late, I couldn't and it took a week (I read it as soon as | got home everyday).

Anyway, it was over. I enjoyed reading it and I love the book afterall. Amazing.
Tears fell down when I finished it and I read that the auther bursted into tears when she put down her pen, too. As it was said before the release, some characters passed away, it was so sad and I didn't want to accept it but I felt the warmth when the story ended.
But I still don't know what to say but it was a good story.





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June 25, 2006

The Da Vinci Code

Davincicode 今更ながら、、、





そんなわけで、数ヶ月前に『パッション(確か原題The Passion of Christ)』を録画して
HDDに入れておいたんだけど、先週観ようと思ったら、父に消されていた・・・Σ( ̄Д ̄;)



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