Quote: Supposed Lincoln quote traces to Alphonse Karr - help with French requested

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sat Nov 16 20:13:53 UTC 2013

Thank you very much for providing further analysis WB, and great
thanks to Wilson for his valuable suggestion for the translation.

Now, I've found an earlier instance of the verse in a work by Alphonse
Karr published in 1853. A different introduction was used for the
verse. Karr seemed to be saying that the verse was anonymous. Here is
an excerpt and a link. To view more of the surrounding text one may
follow the link.

[ref] 1853, Lettres écrites de mon jardin by Alphonse Karr, Quote Page
293, Publisher Michel Lévy Frères, Paris. (Google Books full view)
link [/ref]


[Begin excerpt]

Disons en passant car tout intéresse chez un grand poëte, que la fleur
de prédilection de M. Victor Hugo est ce ravissant petit liseron des
haies blanc et rose qui répand une si délicieuse odeur d'amande amère.
Glissons ici humblement et sournoisement quatre vers à propos des
roses et de leurs épines; l'auteur désire avoir l'air de désirer
garder l'anonyme:

De leur meilleur côté tâchons de voir les choses:
Vous vous plaignez de voir les rosiers épineux;
Moi, je me réjouis et rends grâces aux dieux
  Que les épines aient des roses.
[End excerpt]

Do you think that Karr was stating that the authorship of the verse
was anonymous? The repetition of "désire" and "désirer" seems awkward
or even comical in the Google translation.

Alphonse Karr was given credit in some contemporary works in French
and in the following 1877 collection. The introduction was removed and
the reader was led to credit Karr:

[ref] 1877, L'esprit d'Alphonse Karr: pensées, extraites de ses
oeuvres completes by Alphonse Karr, Quote Page 49, Publisher Calmann
Lévy, Paris. (Google Books full view) link [/ref]


With appreciation


On Sat, Nov 16, 2013 at 9:41 AM, W Brewer <brewerwa at gmail.com> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       W Brewer <brewerwa at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: Quote: Supposed Lincoln quote traces to Alphonse Karr - help
>               with French requested
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> GO'T: Maybe a little more context via my pathetic French. NOT A
> WORD-FOR-WORD RENDITION; lots of paraphrases, elipses. Not sure if Alphonse
> Karr is actually in favor of garden-path education, or is just scoring
> points as a picky critic. Did he compose the poem? I can't tell, but he
> gives no reference to anyone else. (Perhaps a possible anonymous author was
> too well know to merit mention?) I sure am tentative.
> Un Mai^tre d'E'cole (A school master)
> A critique of a Parisian play, _Mai^tre d'E'cole_, starring the famous
> actor Fre'de'rick Lemai^tre. In the play, a peasant boy recites the fable
> of =93The Cicada and the Ant=94 and then laughs, because the moral of the s=
> tory
> is funny. The teacher berates the pupil: The cicada sings for us
> beautifully night & day, all summer long; it is not right that the cicada
> should freeze & starve in the winter. This idea is found also in the novel
> _Clovis Gosselin_ by He'rambert; and favored by some German and a French
> professor Issaurat from Nice: children must be reared in the great outdoors
> in gardens where they can see and breathe the roses while declining the
> Latin word _rosa_ (rosa, rosae, rosam), since these are mere words, while a
> living rose has to do with knowledge, feelings, morals, philosophy. Just by
> saying Latin _rosa_ -- rose -- his school master spoke of nature, of
> Providence, of God; of the discoveries about man: grafting, planting,
> artificial fertilization (la fe'condation artificielle!!!); of greenish
> rose parasites, plant lice, *ants* and the exotic story of these bugs,
> stories more interesting to kids than fairy tales, the most beautiful
> poetry about roses, hence all the stories involving roses, the folded rose
> leaf that troubles the sleep of the sybarite, while the genuine man sleeps
> a restorative sleep on the straw which has just fallen under his
> hard-working scythe.
> Let us try to see things from their better side:
> You complain about seeing thorny rose bushes;
> Me, I rejoice and give thanks to the gods
> That thorns have roses.
> And so on and so forth, morality tale, history, fable, natural history,
> philosophy, it doesn't hinder learning the first declension, which becomes
> what it should be, a detail of instruction, instead of being what it is for
> so many, education as a whole.
> Thus giveth Fre'de'rick Lemai^tre his lesson on _The Cicada & the Ant_. An
> old, sick friend wrote this author the other day: just as his wife
> complements him, so cicadas should marry ants.
> The author of _The School Master_ resembles La Fontaine, unfortunately not
> his pretty side. La Fontaine knows people, but he doesn't know every animal=
> .
> In _The Cicada & the Ant_ , La Fontaine mistakes the cicada of le Midi for
> the grass hopper, Chateau-Thierry & d'Auteuil's <criquet> (cricket or
> locust).
> The author of _The School Master_ does the same =85
> [The de'nouement:] The mistake of the author of the new piece, however, is
> a demonstration that the need of the school master (like my He'rambert and
> like his Fre'de'rick) is strongly felt & was not satisfied at the time of
> his studies.
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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