May 23rd 2010
The Secret Life of France. Lucy Wadham. 2009. ISBN 9780571236114. This book was a delight. The author has a wry self deprecating way with words that captivate you. If you have ever wondered about what, to us Anglo Saxon Protestant work ethic driven planet dwellers, is going on in the minds of the French (And so some extant French Canadians, this is the book that will give you a lot of answers. Any summary will not do justice to how she argues:
The French (Chattering classes ) love the idea, but not often the implementation There is liberty – except if you transgress the unwritten codes:
- All French are created equal – except if you are an immigrant who is unfortunate enough to love in a ghetto
- We are all equal , but I will fight to the death my particular perks that I enjoy that you do not have.
- Working for the State is the highest form of service – but that means I am better than you and I can be rude
- Team play takes a distant second seat to me winning
- France remains a patriarchal society- feminism did not take root, men run the country and women wait for men to make their move.
- To be seen is to be better than to do.
- You can divorce, but why not have affairs- changing husbands is just moving t e furniture in ten years.
- All are allowed their secret garden and the press will not inquire into your private lives – at least not until Sarkozy made it a celebrity life.
- The press is free , but the government really interferes, and most French people do not read it anyway
- The Republic is not a democracy – it starts as a Socialist state and then pushes left
- Only the govt can get in debt – it is frowned upon with regular folks, just try to get a loan.
- All are equal but a sub current of racism means Sarkozy talks about his Hungarian fathers roots, but not his mothers Jewish roots.
- Parisian views are diametrically opposite to the views of the country people (who eschew capitalism)
- You have Liberty but Muslim women can not wear the head covering etc, because displays of ethnic, religious difference are not allowed. You are all free to look the same – perfect French, perfect French people.
A good coast to coast airplane read- Very useful if you ever have to deal with The French. You will understand your lack of success better.
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