Thursday, September 23, 2010

"Francophonie" -- The Unity, Real or Imagined, of the French-Speaking World


1. “Mitterrand was under strong pressure from the French pro-African lobby. Whereas the majority of European capitals had radically broken with their colonial past, Paris had not. French society still includes a large, active, and well-organized army of people who made their careers in the colonial administration, spent their lives (quite well!) in the colonies, and now, as foreigners in Europe, feel useless and unwanted. At the same time, they believe deeply that France is not only a European country but also the community of all people partaking in French culture and language; that France, in other words, is also a global cultural and linguistic entity: Francophonie. This philosophy, translated into the simplistic language of geopolitics, holds that if someone, anywhere in the world, is attacking a French-speaking country, it is almost as if he were striking at France itself.”

From “A Lecture on Rwanda” by Ryszard Kapuściński, in The Shadow of the Sun (Poland 1998).

2. "I don’t remember Europe from my childhood. Not even the voyage to America, really. That I had been born there was an abstract idea. Yet it had a hold over me which was as powerful as the hold France can have on a colonial. I spoke French, read French, remembered waiting for the reports of the Revolution and reading the Paris newspaper accounts of Napoleon’s victories. I remember the anger I felt when he sold the colony of Louisiana to the United States. How long the mortal Frenchman lived in me I don’t know. He was gone by this time, really, but there was in me that great desire to see Europe and to know it, which comes not only from the reading of all the literature and philosophy, but from the feeling of having been shaped by Europe more deeply and keenly than the rest of Americans. I was a Creole who wanted to see where it had all begun."

From Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice (U.S. 1976).

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