Defending a Masterpiece

I have noticed over the years a shrinking of the best classics in English and French on Brampton’s library shelves. This has concerned me because I have slowly come to appreciate some of the truly great books and authors in the history of literature.
The most inspiring source of my literary “dabbling” in the past two decades has been Eleanor Wachtel’s amazing literary interviews on CBC Radio in her Sunday afternoon program, Writers and Company. She is, I think, the best literary interviewer on the Planet.
What took me by surprise in May was the shrinking of of the library’s adult French section. This is because I was looking for Madame Bovary in French, as a result of Wachtel’s interview with Karl Ove Knausgaard, the brilliant Norwegian, who described Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary as his “favourite book of all time.”
I wanted to borrow the original French version. (I thought I would respect the years Flaubert put in to meticulously completing, in 1857, his first and most famous novel that changed literature forever.)
The librarian could not find the adult French section. I located it by accident in June.
She did check on the computer and said Madame Bovary was not in any of the library branches of this city of over half a million people.
And I’m shocked that Wikipedia’s article on Brampton does not even contain the word, “French.”
I, an anglophone of French/English/Irish descent raised in Montreal, with no “axe” to grind, am saddened to see this, and to find that nowhere in any Brampton’s eight libraries did a version of this first modern novel ever written exist in French.
So I requested it in French and waited until May 23 when it was delivered from the library in Acton, Ontario, population 9500, now amalgamated into the Town of Halton Hills.
French is not my first language and I spent the first three weeks getting through Thierry Laget’s brilliant preface, while listing listing the many words I had to look up. Then I noticed that, having been borrowed from another district, it was not renewable. I brought the book back on its due date and was again helped wonderfully by the person who served me. She renewed it on her own initiative for a week.
The Brampton Library has agreed to add more true classics like this to their shelves.
You can purchase the book and support Toronto’s Librairie Mosaïque  here.
This unique, deep, and shining masterpiece should be widely available across Canada and the world.
*********
I now own the Thierry Laget paperback edition and will treasure it always.
Advertisement

Black-billed Cuckoo Sighting

March 31:

Our Easter Sunday present was our first-ever sighting of a black-billed cuckoo. It was seen at about 08:30 h in Brampton as we walked N through the south end of Nuffield Park, just past the little circle with benches where the ladies usually sit and chat in their saris on mornings when the warmer weather comes.

Anita noticed it was not a robin – it was slim and long bodied, slim necked, with a long bill and a beige breast. Perched high in a tree it sang:

cu cu cu – cu cu cu cu – cu cu cu

“I’m a bird – but you know that – don’t you, now”

(My original way of remembering the “cadence of the cu’s”)

I’ve recorded it on the My Birds page.

Happy Easter!

P.S. If I’m wrong, or if you have a more likely fit for what we observed, let me know.