Skip to main content

Model translation from Camus' La Peste


From La Peste by Albert Camus (1947)

This is from the free samples page of frenchteacher.net.

Camus’ novel, written just after the horrors of the Second World war is an allegory about the Nazi occupation of France and the presence of evil and suffering in the world in general. In this extract the central characters are witness the death of a child who has fallen victim to the plague in the Algerian city of Oran. The setting is a hospital ward.



Le long des murs peints à la chaux, la lumière passait du rose au jaune. Derrière la vitre, une matinée de chaleur commençait à crépiter. C’est à peine si on entendit Grand partir en disant qu’il reviendrait. Tous attendaient. L’enfant, les yeux toujours fermés, semblait se calmer un peu. Les mains, devenues comme des griffes, labouraient doucement les flancs du lit. Elles remontèrent, grattèrent la couverture près des genoux, et, soudain, l’enfant plia ses jambes, ramena ses cuisses près du et s’immobilisa. Il ouvrit alors les yeux pour la première fois et regarda Rieux qui se trouvait devant lui. Au creux de son visage maintenant figé dans une argile grise, la bouche s’ouvrit et, presque aussitôt, il en sortit un seul cri continu, que la respiration nuançait à peine, et qui emplit soudain la salle d’une protestation monotone, discorde, et si peu humaine qu’elle semblait venir de tous les hommes à la fois. Rieux serrait les dents et Tarrou se détourna. Rambert s’approcha du lit près de Castel qui ferma le livre, resté ouvert sur ses genoux. Paneloux regarda cette bouche enfantine, souillée par la maladie, pleine de ce cri de tous les âges. Et il se laissa glisser à genoux et tout le monde trouva naturel de l’entendre dire d’une voix un peu étouffée, mais distincte derrière la plainte anonyme qui n’arrêtait pas : « Mon Dieu, sauvez cet enfant. »

Mais l’enfant continuait de crier et, tout autour de lui, les malades s’agitèrent. Celui dont les exclamations n’avaient pas cessé, à l’autre bout de la pièce, précipita le rythme de sa plainte jusqu’à en faire, lui aussi, un vrai cri, pendant que les autres gémissaient de plus en plus fort. Une marée de sanglots déferla dans la salle, couvrant la prière de Paneloux, et Rieux, accroché à la barre du lit, ferma les yeux, ivre de fatigue et de dégoût.

Model answer

Along the whitewashed walls the light was changing from pink to yellow. The morning waves of heat were beating against the window. They hardly heard Grand leaving as he said he would come back later. They were all waiting. The child, his eyes still closed, seemed to grow a little calmer. His hands gently clawed away at the sides of the bed. Then they rose, scratched away at the blanket below his knees and suddenly the child doubled up his legs, bringing his thighs above his stomach and remained quite still. For the first time he opened his eyes and gazed at Rieux who was standing straight in front of him. His mouth, in a face with a fixed expression the colour of grey clay, opened, and almost immediately, there emerged a long, incessant scream, hardly varying with his breathing, filling the ward with a discordant, monotone protest, so inhuman that it seemed come from all mankind at once. Rieux gritted his teeth and Tarrou looked away. Rambert went and stood beside Castel who closed the book which had been lying open on his lap. Paneloux observed the child’s mouth, fouled by the sores of the plague, pouring out that death cry which has sounded out across the ages. He sank to his knees and everyone thought it quite natural when he said, in a slightly strangled voice, but one which could be clearly made out from the nameless, never-ending wail: “My God, spare this child.”

But the child continued to wail and, around him, the other patients began to grow restless. The child at the far end of the ward whose little sobs had gone on unbroken, now quickened their tempo, so they became one continuous wail, whilst the others in the ward groaned ever more loudly. A tide of sobbing swept across the room, drowning out Paneloux’s prayer and Rieux, who was still tightly gripping the rail of the bed, closed his eyes, dazed with exhaustion and disgust.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The latest research on teaching vocabulary

I've been dipping into The Routledge Handbook of Instructed Second Language Acquisition (2017) edited by Loewen and Sato. This blog is a succinct summary of Chapter 16 by Beatriz González-Fernández and Norbert Schmitt on the topic of teaching vocabulary. I hope you find it useful.

1.  Background

The authors begin by outlining the clear importance of vocabulary knowledge in language acquisition, stating that it's a key predictor of overall language proficiency (e.g. Alderson, 2007). Students often say that their lack of vocabulary is the main reason for their difficulty understanding and using the language (e.g. Nation, 2012). Historically vocabulary has been neglected when compared to grammar, notably in the grammar-translation and audio-lingual traditions as well as  communicative language teaching.

(My note: this is also true, to an extent, of the oral-situational approach which I was trained in where most vocabulary is learned incidentally as part of question-answer sequence…

Delayed dictation

What is “delayed dictation”?

Instead of getting students to transcribe immediately what you say, or what a partner says, you can enforce a 10 second delay so that students have to keep running over in their heads what they have heard. Some teachers have even used the delay time to try to distract students with music.

It’s an added challenge for students but has significant value, I think. It reminds me of a phenomenon in music called audiation. I use it frequently as a singer and I bet you do too.

Audiation is thought to be the foundation of musicianship. It takes place when we hear and comprehend music for which the sound is no longer or may never have been present. You can audiate when listening to music, performing from notation, playing “by ear,” improvising, composing, or notating music. When we have a song going round in our mind we are audiating. When we are deliberately learning a song we are audiating.

In our language teaching case, though, the earworm is a word, chunk of l…

Dissecting a lesson: using a set of PowerPoint slides

I was prompted to write this just having produced for frenchteacher.net three separate PowerPoint presentations using the same set of 20 pictures (sports). A very good way for you to save time is to reuse the same resource in a number of different ways.

I chose 20 clear, simple, clear and copyright-free images from pixabay.com to produce three presentations on present tense (beginners), near future (post beginner) and perfect tense (post-beginner/low intermediate). Here is one of them:





Below is how I would have taught using this presentation - it won't be everyone's cup of tea, especially of you are not big on choral repetition and PPP (Presentation-Practice-Production), but I'll justify my choice in the plan at each stage. For some readers this will be standard practice.

1. Explain in English that you are going to teach the class how to talk about and understand people talking about sport. By the end of the lesson they will be able to say and understand 20 different sport…

Designing a plan to improve listening skills

Read many books and articles about listening and you’ll see it described as the forgotten skill. It certainly seems to be the one which causes anxiety for both teachers and students. The reasons are clear: you only get a very few chances to hear the material, exercises feel like tests and listening is, well, hard. Just think of the complex processes involved: segmenting the sound stream, knowing lots of words and phrases, using grammatical knowledge to make meaning, coping with a new sound system and more. Add to this the fact that in England they have recently decided to make listening tests harder (too hard) and many teachers are wondering what else they can do to help their classes.

For students to become good listeners takes lots of time and practice, so there are no quick fixes. However, I’m going to suggest, very concisely, what principles could be the basis of an overall plan of action. These could be the basis of a useful departmental discussion or day-to-day chats about meth…

Responsive teaching

Dylan Wiliam, the academic most associated with Assessment for Learning (AfL), aka formative assessment, has stated that these labels have not been the most helpful to teachers. He believes that they have been partly responsible for poor implementation of AfL and the fact that AfL has not led to the improved outcomes originally intended.

Wiliam wrote on Twitter in 2013:

“Example of really big mistake: calling formative assessment formative assessment rather than something like "responsive teaching".”

For the record he subsequently added:

“The point I was making—years ago now—is that it would have been much easier if we had called formative assessment "responsive teaching". However, I now realize that this wouldn't have helped since it would have given many people the idea that it was all about the teacher's role.”

I suspect he’s right about the appellation and its consequences. As a teacher I found it hard to get my head around the terms AfL and formative assess…