Clair de femme

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Clair de femme by Romain Gary
Translation by Allison C. Parker
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|  |Ms. Parker's translation into English of the French novel Clair de femme, by Romain Gary, charts the emotional journey of a man who loves his wife beyond reason and who|
| |must nevertheless learn to let her go--a tragicomic story of the 1970s that foreshadowed the importance of end-of-life politics in presentsociety. |
| |In the following excerpt, protagonist Michel Folain speaks to Lydia, a near-stranger, about his dying wife's wish: that he find her replacement; that, above all, he not|
| |lose his capacity to love. |
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| |When you have loved one woman with all your heart, with your every morning, with all the forests, fields, springs, and birds, you know that you have not yet loved her |
| |enough and that the world is nothingmore than the beginning of all that you have left to do. I'm not asking you to take vows with me. I know that you just wanted to |
| |help a woman, make her death more gentle. We've talked all night, but I've said almost nothing to you, because it's your lips that were speaking to me of her. And you |
| |will never know to what extent she believed in you and had confidence in you.We often went to Flot: she preferred the great forest over the sea, which is so changing. |
| |She knew she was going to die, but you can't see it in the middle of the landscape. When someone asked her what sign she was, she would answer, laughing: "Firefly." She|
| |loved to touch the black rocks that dreamed of trembling, of the ephemeral. We walked among the trees in search ofanother couple, in a thousand years, in ten thousand |
| |years, because life also needs a reason to live. She said that I was idealistic and thus the reality of a woman disappeared; it was so much the better, she thus felt |
| |less perishable. Deprived slightly of her humanity, she became less mortal. I remember this place well, this road: there was a blue-green pond lit withdragonflies, |
| |with fleeting sparkles between the sun and shade. The enemy had already mastered the terrain: our days were numbered. She placed her hope in you. "I'd like her to come |
| |here in the same season, when this purple splash of heather is back, and in her hand, your hand will remember mine. Several very beautiful poems will also be necessary,|
| |but what can youexpect? For poets, speaking of love shows a lack of originality, which always asks for huge resources. Love, the couple, at a time when we will explore|
| |Mars and walk on the moon. No, seriously, it's passé. And yet, who said all that is feminine is man, all that is masculine is woman? Nobody. I know it's incredibly |
| |stupid to have to leave you for technical reasons, as itwere--physical problems, a virus, God knows what--but trust me: I will be another woman for you. I think about |
| |her a lot. It's even rather funny, the care that I lavish on her. I don't know her, she could lack a sense of community, and then we would have problems, she and I. All|
| |the same, I have helped her greatly, because you will not be able to live without me, and there'salways a place quite ready for another woman. I don't want to steal |
| |away like a thief; you must help me remain woman; the cruelest way of forgetting me would be to stop loving. Tell her . . ." But to what good, Lydia? You know, you |
| |understand: here we are. Bread does not need to be invented, the water has no lesson to give to the spring, the heart does not explain...
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