It is raining and I have been stuck in various coffee shops and library computer labs today. I did a schmucky thing this afternoon. Biking (in the rain) to my French exam, I realized (well, previous to biking, actually) that I was extremely unprepared for this translation/reading knowledge exam, and could quite possibly fail it, despite having spent my entire summer translating an article. Having spent the past two days going back over the textbook, I had found that although I had spent a lot of time translating a specific text, I hadn't spent that much time actually studying my textbook. It's been at least four years since I've taken an exam, so I had not prepared so well. When I got to the exam, I asked the instructor (a super nice lady) if it was too late to take this on another day (there are multiple exam dates), and she said that of course I could if I felt more comfortable taking it next week. (I repeat... a super nice lady). So, despite really hating to do things like this and prolonging the agony, I decided to spend a few more days doing a more comprehensive review.
Sitting at a coffee shop where I spent four hours downing pots of tea and translating various passages from my textbook, I came across this little story that so delighted me, I decided to post it on the blog. Voici un histoire que j'aime. (And this is a French -> English class, not the other way, so pardon my French... hehehe.)
A Quick Wit
Once upon a time there was a king who was superstitious but did not want to admit it. He learned that in his kingdom lived a certain man who pretended that he could read the future in the stars and predict what would was going to happen.
The king believed himself very talented, and he grew angry at this astrologer who did that which he, the king, could not do. He summoned him to come to the royal palace, having resolved to put him to death and, at the same time, to show the courtiers that his pretences were false.
Following the orders of their master, two soldiers stood ready, when the king gave them the signal, to throw the astrologer out the window. Turning round toward the poor man who had just entered the great hall of the palace, the monarch said to him:
"You pretend to know that which will come in the future. Well then, can you predict when you will die?"
The astrologer suspected the king's intentions and after reflecting for a few seconds, he responded:
"Sire, I am not able to predict the day of my death, but I know very well that I will die exactly three days before Your Majesty."
The two soldiers waited in vain for the signal. The king quickly changed his mind, and instead of killing the astrologer, he asked him to stay in the palace, to take care of himself and to run from no danger. It was necessary to take the greatest care with a life so precious.
ma traduction de "Un Esprit vif" au livre: Reading French in the Arts and Sciences. Fourth Edition. Ed. Edward M. Stack. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1987. p. 73
Image credit: Hans Holbein, Les simulacres de la Mort