I enjoy reading French literature, but it's much more of a challenge for me than reading in English. What's most frustrating is that I sometimes miss certain nuances that are indeed important if you truly want to understand the work.
So this time, I decided to cheat… but just a little. My husband, a Sorbonne literature graduate, and I would read Sartre's play "Huis clos" in tandem. I read a few pages, then he zipped through those and a few more (showoff!), then it was my turn, etc. One book. Two bookmarks.
This actually was an excellent plan, even if it was more to my advantage than to my husband's. It was fun to share our thoughts as we progressed through the play and reached the end. The book includes a second play, "Les mouches," so we will do a tandem read on that as well.
Our project also took the stress out of reading a foreign book because I knew that if I missed something, I had someone here who certainly wouldn't! OK, I admit it… This attitude is a bit lazy!
As for my thoughts on "Huis clos"…
It is about three characters (a man and two women) who arrive in hell and find themselves locked in a sort of living room together. It's a bit warm, but otherwise, no pitchforks or fire. Just the three of them.
We find out why they are in hell, but the question is why are the three of them together?
I don't want to spoil "Huis clos" for any of you who would like to read it, but I will reveal part of the message… Hell isn't pitchforks, fire or physical torture. It's something more profound. If you would like to know more, I will leave it to you to read this well-crafted play!