Sunday, March 18, 2012

French Wit And Wisdom

Years ago while living in Cleveland, I signed up for a "correspondence course" to teach myself French. In the pre-internet days, the University of Wisconsin-Madison offered a number of such courses.  They sent me assignments which I completed and sent back through the mail.  I haven't done this sort of thing recently, but back then at least I had the feeling of connecting with a real person.

The French course had two textbooks, both written by a UW-Madison professor, Joseph Palmeri. There was a grammar book with exercises and there was a companion reader entitled French Wit And Wisdom:

The book is a real treasure. You can see how well worn mine is. It's clearly Palmeri's labor of love and reflects a lifelong harvest of pithy French wit on all of life's salient topics.

Here's the table of contents:
Click to enlarge
The book is bilingual, having the original French on the left-hand side (along with author and citation) and Palmeri's translation on the right. This is a sample page set concerning work and happiness:

The book is available on Amazon. Check out the review by his grandson: link


  1. Is it available on

  2. link!

    Check out the review by Palmeri's grandson at the Amazon site.

  3. Vraiment, un livre tres charmant.

    But the universality of this epigram is tested severely by the comments section of Althouse:

    Je n'ai pas recontre un homme avec lequel il n'y eut quelque chose a apprendre. / I have not met a man from whom there wasn't something to be learned.

  4. ...teaching French or English or anything is not so important as teaching how to think.

    Fire and bucket again.