Le Testament français PDF Ý Le Testament Epub /

Le Testament français ✭ Le Testament français Books ✯ Author Andreï Makine – Thomashillier.co.uk „Френското завещание“ е автобиографичен роман, възхвала на френската цивилизация и призоваване на едно изп „Френското завещание“ е автобиографичен роман, възхвала на френската цивилизация и призоваване на едно изпълнено с емоции минало В него Макин разказва за живота на своята бабушка Шарлот Льомоние, родена в Париж в началото на века, която се оказва изгубена в руската степ, омъжена за народен съдия в сталинската империя Нейните спомени от Франция са истинска мина от невероятни съкровища за Le Testament Epub / малчугана: менюто на банкета в чест на руските владетели при пристигането им в Шербург, дендита и принцеси от „Шосед’Антен“, Марсел Пруст, който играе тенис на булевард „Бино“! Уви, чудесата на тази „френска Атлантида“ с годините са помрачени от други разкрития: семейни рани, майчини тайни, завещани от Берия кошмари, сатрапът Сталин с харем от изнасилени жени Руснак или французин, на кой завет трябва да остане верен? – пита се разказвачът, избрал езика на насладата и мъката, който го е приспивал от найранното му детство.

  • Paperback
  • 290 pages
  • Le Testament français
  • Andreï Makine
  • Bulgarian
  • 14 October 2017

About the Author: Andreï Makine

Andreï Makine was born in Krasnoyarsk, Soviet Union on September and grew up in city of Penza, a provincial town about miles south east of Moscow As a boy, having acquired familiarity with France and its language from his French born grandmother it is not certain whether Makine had a French grandmother; in later interviews he claimed Le Testament Epub / to have learnt French from a friend, he wrote poe.

10 thoughts on “Le Testament français

  1. Jim Fonseca Jim Fonseca says:

    The story is of a young Russian boy and his older sister who have a French-born grandmother living on the edge of the steppe in Siberia. They live a distance away and visit her only in summers. From her old time stories, her reading of poetry and ancient newspaper articles, their perusal of newspaper and family pictures, she teaches them the language and imbues in them a love of French culture.

    The grandmother’s life spanned years from the tsars through Stalin and WW II to the modern era, so we get quite a dose of Russian history as well. A main touchpoint in the story is that the grandmother was alive in 1896 when the tsar and his family visited Paris in a glamorous celebration of royalty, riches and grandeur. At the other extreme we get a dose of the horrors and starvation the Russians endured in WW II.


    The young boy becomes obsessed with French culture to the point where his Russian schoolmates shun and bully him, thinking him an oddity. After his mother dies, an aunt moves in with her entire family to care for the two children. In contrast to the elegant French culture he dreams of, these folks are tough rural survivors and now the boy gets a heavy dose of “real Russian culture.” And, with required military training at school, he become a militant pro-fatherland Russian. He dreams of driving a tank and looks back at his French culture phase, wondering what all that foolishness was about. He achieves some resolution in his later years when he himself live in Paris and dreams of bringing his grandmother back there. Yet he realizes that her glamorous Paris, like her language, no longer exists.


    There’s a lot about language and how it changes – both French, as it changed from the language the grandmother knew as a child, and Russian, as it changed, Orwell-like, with the burgeoning, insidious communist bureaucracy. There are many references to literature, especially Proust and Madame Bovary.

    Here’s a passage that illustrates the author’s style:

    “Yes, the building was a faint replica of the fashion of the turn of the century. It was as if all the sinuosities, twists and curves of that architecture had flowed in a stream from its European source and, diluted and partly effaced, had reached the depths of Russia. And in the icy wind of the steppes this flow had become frozen into an apartment block with strange oval bull’s-eye windows and ornamental rose stems around the doorways…”

    Quotes I liked:

    “Four masters of the Kremlin: Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev…all had one quality in common: at their sides a feminine presence, let alone an amorous one, was inconceivable.”

    “Her body contained a perfumed warmth, a disturbing fragrance, made up of the throbbing of her blood, the polish of her skin, that alluring languor of her speech.”

    “Life, in fact, was an endless rough draft, in which events, badly organized, encroached on one another, in which the characters were too numerous and prevented one another from speaking, suffering, being loved or hated individually.”

    “Literature was now revealed as being perpetual amazement at the flow of words into which the world dissolved.”

    “…the translator of prose is the slave of the author, and the translator of poetry is his rival.”

    Translated from the French, this book won the Prix Goncourt in 1995 and made several book-of-the-year lists in the US. Makine is a Russian who came to France on a teacher exchange program and claimed exile.

    A very good, very literary book. A bit slow at times, as you would expect from any book with “dreams” in the title!

    Painting of Tsar Nicholas II's visit to Paris in 1896 from lookandlearn.com
    Photo from pbslearningmedia.org

  2. Kalliope Kalliope says:

    The Goncourt prize in France seems to be drawn to Russian writers who can write French better than many French natives.

    In 1938 it was awarded to Henri Troyat (né Lev Aslanovitch Tarasov) for his L’Araigne. He later became a Member of L’Académie Française. In 1956 and again in 1975 it was awarded to Romain Gary (né Roman Kacew). And more recently, in 1995, André Makine (a.k.a. Gabriel Osmonde) received this prestigious prize.

    Had Nabokov been the son not of an Anglophile but of a Francophile, we would probably have another example.

    Le Testament français is my first novel by Makine. It is also his first novel. I am grateful to Fionnuala who drew it to my attention.

    This book is autobiographical in a roundabout way since it is in the narration of his own early life that the narrator focuses on the account of someone else’s life, the life of his grandmother. And it is in so doing that the narrator can eventually find himself.

    This book has appealed to me in many ways. First and foremost there is its language. Le testament is one of those books that leave a taste in your mouth because its language is so beautiful that you want to detain its words for a little while longer and savor them. The tale is that Makine, when seeking to publish his work in France, had to invent a fictional translator because editors could not believe that such splendid writing in French could be authored by a foreigner.

    The second appeal is that ever since I read in my teens, and reread later on, Le Grand Meaulnes by Alain-Forunier, I have developed a weakness for stories narrated by a young person in the French provinces and taking place either just before WWI or during the interwar period. They embody for me, fully, the meaning of the word nostalgia, even if this perfect nostalgia is extraneous to me since neither the period nor the geography belong to my lived experiences.

    And finally there is the added theme of the mixed nationalities as a determinant in the formation of the self. These correspond to two countries standing at opposite cultural poles, and yet with many historical links. The young narrator is torn between the dreamed France with its scenes of sophisticated and exquisite Salons and cultural cafés or delicious countryside, and the tangible and rough Russia in the process of transforming itself into a Stalinist state, with its harsh scenes of severe poverty, disturbing cruelty and inhospitable steppes.

    In this search for the self through the memories of someone else, the young narrator will try to collect cues from all possible sources and gradually finish the puzzle of his existence, even if some of these hints insist, like it so often happens with old photographs, to remain stubbornly mute.

    Le testament français is a cherishable read and I recommended it to any lovers of Proust. Not only is Marcel Proust mentioned twice in the novel as the epitome of the dreamed refined Paris, but the Proustian themes of memories and self searching are consciously explored here again. This time they are given the new element of the divergent pull from both the Russian and French cultures. It is as if this novel were a deliberate tribute to Proust and his French writing, as felt by a Russian soul.



    It has been translated into English (truly)as Dreams of My Russian Summers. It is noteworthy that they have chosen the other cultural pole, the Russian not the French, for the English title. I find that this translated title is too prosaic and has lost the evocative power of the original. I hope the rest of the translation has captured the original lyrical tone.

  3. Rowena Rowena says:

    So I saw things differently; was it an advantage? Or a handicap, a blemish?... I understood that this second view of things would have to be hidden for it could only provoke mockery from others.- Andrei Makïne, Dreams of my Russian Summers

    One of my interests in recent years has been in reading books about, and talking to people with cross-cultural upbringings, and it amazes me how much is similar between people who were, like me, brought up in this way. It's even more interesting to encounter a person like this in a literary setting because I think there's so much more we can get down on paper about our lives and inner struggles with identity than we can say in a conversation.

    Makine introduces us to a French-Russian boy in this great coming of age story in which the young boy, our narrator, tries to come to grips with his cultural identity through stories, papers, and historical artifacts found in his grandmother's trunk, his observations and experiences. He finds himself shifting identities constantly. Is he French? Is he Russian? Is he both? How much of each is he? Before I'd even properly read the synopsis, I sensed a Proustian quality in Makine's words. Not surprisingly, Proust was mentioned more than a few times in this book. His French Proust-like grandmother is central to the confusion the boy feels about his identity; she represents a romantic, democratic France, which is in stark contrast to a colder, harsher Russia devoid of beautiful architecture because of the wars and Stalinist regime, a Russia still reeling from the atrocities of war.

    Ultimately, for those of us with this sort of upbringing, we are on our own journey to find our way. Speaking to others, I've heard of the many ways they've reconciled their identity, for example through music, art, writing, and even sports. I related to our protagonists' journey because of my love of history so I can understand the route the boy chose to learn about himself.

    I find it interesting how the narrator not only mythologized France, but also how he finally understood who he was and why he was thus. Makine is a great writer and this is one of my top reads of the year for good reason.

    So that was it, the key to our Atlantis! Language, that mysterious substance, invisible and omnipresent, whose sonorous essence reached into every corner of the universe we were in the process of exploring. This language that shaped men, moulded objects, rippled in verse, bellowed in streets invaded by crowds, caused a young tsarina who had come from the other end of the world to smile...But above all throbbed within us, like a magical graft implanted in our hearts, already bringing forth leaves and flowers, bearing within it the fruit of a whole civilization. Yes, this implant, the French language.

  4. Fionnuala Fionnuala says:

    Several of the books I have been reading recently have been about place.
    Together they show how the history of a community and the geography of a region can be combined and recorded so that they remain alive and vibrant rather than gathering dust in the archives.
    In Cosmopolitan Europe: A Strasbourg Self-Portrait, the geographer John Western records the history and geography of the city of Strasbourg on the French/German border through wonderfully immediate interviews with its citizens; the reader actually hears the people's voices.
    In Island: Collected Stories, Alastair MacLeod describes Cape Breton as faithfully as any geographer might but although it is fiction, the reader comes to believe that his stories are the true and very poetic account of people and places he knew and loved.
    In Passing the Time in Ballymenone, Henry Glassie sets out the story of a tiny community in Northern Ireland. Like Western, he listens carefully to what the people say but what he emphasises is less factual and more story oriented. Like MacLeod, Glassie demonstrates how history can easily become story and how story eventually becomes myth.

    History becoming myth is also the theme of Russian writer Andrei Makine’s Le Testament Français. Makine is particularly preoccupied with how memories become distorted in the telling and how the transmitting of them to others can radically change the lives of those others. During the course of this novel, the narrator recounts the evolution of his own thinking about his grandmother’s stories of her youth in France. His reactions vary from passionate interest in every detail of her stories while he was a child, to a cooler and more clinical study of everything French as a teenager and then towards a radical rejection of his French roots as a young adult before veering right back again to the initial obsessive state in middle age when the original stories have finally become myths. A major turning point occurs when he realises that history which doesn’t come alive, which is not infused with poetry and the voices of the participants, is a dry dead thing. Makine clearly believes in honouring the spirit of the original possessor of the memory and the passages in which Charlotte the narrator’s French grandmother feature are the most beautiful in this book.

    Alongside this unique examination of memory and place, Makine weaves a second story of family secrets and the brutal choices that were necessary in order to stay alive in Stalinist Russia. In order to successfully combine these two themes, Makine allows the action of the novel to revolve around two separate points, following a series of elliptical orbits around these points, sometimes straying quite near one, more often following a wide arc away from it but closer to the other so that the reader almost forgets that the first point exists.
    Very deftly handled.

  5. Laysee Laysee says:

    Dreams of My Russian Summers is my second book by Russian-born French novelist, Andrei Makine, and I was once again entranced by the elegance of his lyrical prose. Makine was born and raised in Russia but he wrote this book in French while he was living in France. The version I read was translated into English by Geoffrey Strachan. There were lines and passages I loved and read over a few times because they were breathtakingly beautiful. I can only imagine how much more luscious and gorgeous it must have been in the original language.

    As the title suggests, the novel had a dreamlike quality. The story captured the memories of the narrator, Aloysha, a Russian with a French heritage, from the age of 10 to about 35. The novel was built dominantly on memories of summers his younger self had spent in Saranza on the Russian steppes with his French grandmother, Charlotte Lemmonier, whom he adored. Leafing through old photo albums and an old suitcase of newspaper clippings of significant historic events, the young narrator and his sister began to piece together their grandmother’s past and that of their great-grandmother (Albertine who married a Russian doctor). They shed light on the family’s prehistory that dated back to the watershed of the 1917 revolution which brought the tsars to power. The narrator recalled how ‘Adult life, in all its tedium and all its disturbing seriousness, stopped our breath with its smell of dust and things shut away...’

    I imagined ‘summer evenings filled with the scented breeze of the steppes...’ as Charlotte shared stories of bygone days living at different times in these two countries. This novel read like a tale of two countries that slowly unfolded from the period before WWI to the 1970s. We learned about Neuilly, a village in Russia with its izbas, herds of cattle and cockerel, as well as about the visit by Tsar Nicolas II to the French president in Paris and the lavish banquet menu, promise of peace and cooperation, which did not materialize. Without exaggeration, Charlotte also described life in Siberia during WWI (wrecked lives and mangled bodies) and starvation in the years following the war when she survived the long winters on dried plants - a Siberian soup concocted from stems, grains, and roots.

    For the adolescent narrator, Charlotte’s romanticized version of Nicolas II was contrary to what he learned in history class about Nicholas the Bloody. His love for France that Charlotte imparted became for him a barrier toward full acceptance into Russian society. He was unpopular and ostracized by his schoolmates. He began to question his own love of French culture and felt resentful toward his grandmother. For much of his life, the narrator agonized over his identity. He was sandwiched between a beautiful French past and a harsh Russian present. In his own words: “This country is monstrous! Evil, torture, suffering, self-mutilation, are the favorite pastimes of its inhabitants. And still I love it? I love it for its absurdity. For its monstrosities. I see in it a higher meaning that no logical reasoning can penetrate...”; “This life was a continual heartbreak. The blacker the Russia I was discovering turned out to be, the more violent my attachment became. As if to love it, one had to tear out one’s eyes, plug one’s ears, stop oneself thinking.” The story traced the change in his thoughts and feelings toward French culture and the resolution of his conflicts.

    In many ways, I believe, this novel has autobiographical influences. The adult narrator put his memories of his grandmother into a book, titled ‘Charlotte Lemonnier: Biographical Notes’. He published several novels; however, his earlier novels written in French were rejected by publishers who did not believe that a Russian could write French. The novels received due recognition only after he claimed to have had them translated from Russian to French. This was reminiscent of Makine’s own heartache as a writer. According to Wikipedia, 'Makine had to present his first manuscripts as translations from Russian to overcome publishers' skepticism that a newly arrived exile could write so fluently in a second language.'

    Dreams of My Russian Summers is a novel that has to be read slowly with all of one’s senses. The vivid prose allowed one to picture, amongst other things, the ring of izbas (log houses) and the decapitated church with the cupola and cross lopped off by Russian revolutionaries, and smell the fragrance left by the taiga (pine trees). Makine’s writing, intoxicating and yet delicate, is a veritable treat. Published in France in 1995, it won two top French awards: the Prix Goncourt and the Prix Medicis.

  6. Hana Hana says:

    On a flower-covered balcony, cooled by Siberia’s dusty summer breezes, a grandmother tells stories to her grandson, the narrator, and granddaughter. But she is not just any grandmother, nor are these just any times. The grandmother is a Frenchwoman and these are the 1960s in the Soviet Union. Yet on that balcony, the USSR disappears and the children are immersed in another reality—the reality of memories of things and worlds past. They speak in French, and the language, the words, become part of the magic, incantations for summoning mood and memory.

    The choice of events was more or less subjective. Their sequence was chiefly governed by our feverish desire to know, by our random questions…for us the exact chronology mattered little! Time in Atlantis knew only the marvelous simultaneity of the present.

    …still in this present, which never passed away, we came upon a quiet little bistro, the name of which Charlotte spelled out to us, smilingly, as she recalled it: Au Ratafia de Neuilly. “This ratafia,” she would elaborate, “the patron served it in silver scallop dishes….

    We were discovering that a meal, yes, the simple intake of food, could become a theatrical production, a liturgy, an art....

    In truth, we were beginning to lose our heads: the Louvre; Le Cid at the Comédie-Française; the deputies in a boat; and the comet; and the chandeliers, falling one after the other; and the Niagara of wines; and the president’s last embrace…And the frogs disturbed in their winter sleep! We were up against a people with a fabulous multiplicity of sentiments, attitudes, and viewpoints, as well as manners of speaking, creating, and loving.

    Behind the glittering, shifting, ever-present, never-changing France-Atlantis, Charlotte holds other memories at bay and these the narrator learns only indirectly, eavesdropping on adult conversations over the winter, as his parents and their friends and relatives gather to smoke and drink vodka and talk of the Frenchwoman who chose to live alone in Siberia.

    These darker, winter stories coalesce into another narrative in which Charlotte cares for the wounded of the Great War; lives through the horrors of the famines in Stalin’s Soviet Union; the constant hunger kept at bay with watery soup made from dried plants—or worse things, of which Charlotte knows, but does not partake; the last train for the east amid German bombing; and the ‘wrong’ suitcase—the one that holds memories, clippings of old newspapers, not biscuits.

    Only the narrator and his grandmother emerge fully shaped from the shining fragments of memory, and only Charlotte is likable. But the sense of places and times are vivid, even in broken pieces, like the Beaux-Art cherubs knocked off Charlotte’s balcony by Soviet workmen eager to erase the decadent past. One of the cherubs shatters in a thousand pieces on the sidewalk below, but the second of the pair lands in a bed of dahlias and is rescued and preserved by the children.

    In the book’s third section, the narrator is entering adolescence and feels somehow an alien in his own being (as most adolescents do at times). Estranged from his French self he finds himself drawn to the Russian side of his identity and as he does so the tone and tempo of the book, even the sentence structure changes becoming for a time simpler and more linear.
    For at last I was coming back to life. Living in the happy simplicity of orderly actions: shooting, marching in file, eating millet kasha from aluminum mess tins. Letting oneself be carried along in a collective movement directed by others, by those who knew the supreme objective, who generously relieved us of all the burden of responsibility, making us light, transparent, clear.

    And then comes a crisis, a first awkward encounter with a girl, and the narrator flees from his embarrassment—runs away to Charlotte to stand with her again on the balcony, talk of poetry and find, in one last summer with her, a calm center for his soul. Even in that summer's terrible moments—a scene in which we encounter a group of quadruple amputees—Charlotte seems to have a gift for finding and bestowing peace. Now at last we learn the narrator’s name, Alyosha. In Charlotte’s presence, “All at once I saw! Or rather I felt, with all my being, the luminous tie that linked this moment full of iridescent reflections to other moments I had inhabited in the past…Linked together thus, these moments formed a singular universe, with its own rhythm, its particular air and sun….A planet where the death of this woman with her big grey eyes became inconceivable.”

    In truth, I wish the book had ended with that summer, for Alyosha without Charlotte is not an easy person to be with--solitary, self-absorbed, and often incoherent. In the book's fourth section, some 20 years later, Alyosha has been living in the west, on the edge of destitution and perhaps insanity, and finds his way to Paris. His only moments of clarity come from memories of Charlotte and her Paris life, and from the hope that he might bring her to live with him. These final 30 pages contain a couple of interesting twists, but I think the story would have been stronger without them.

    Three and a half stars, rounded up because I loved Charlotte. This is not a book that everyone will enjoy nor is it without flaws; it is too fragmented and often rather too full of itself and its literary antecedents (mostly Proust, it would seem). Yet I am very glad to have met Charlotte and to have glimpsed, in tiny glittering shards, her many lives and worlds.

    Content rating PG for two brief sexual encounters (not particularly graphic) and several wartime and Soviet era scenes of very graphic horror.

  7. Jim Jim says:

    It's a French novel. It's a Russian novel. It's a French novel about Russia. It's a Russian novel about France. It's all of those things. As a Hungarian-American, I am almost never unaware of my own dual nature. So too is Alyosha, the narrator of this tale of his encounters in Saranza, Western Siberia, with his French grandmother, Charlotte Lemonnier.

    Andrei Makine's Dreams of My Russian Summers is a wonderful autobiographical novel about never quite being a unified whole, but part of a centrifugal multiple entity that alternately fascinates and repels one.

  8. Inderjit Sanghera Inderjit Sanghera says:

    Andrei Makine’s beautifully dappled style, the conflagration of colours which leap from the page and the obsession with memory and the past recalls Proust (who makes an appearance in the novel); Makine lacks Proust’s genius, yet ‘Dreams of My Russian Summers’ reverberates with beauty and pathos.

    The story follows the story of a young Russian who is torn between the exoticism, grace and individuality of French culture, as represented by his French grandmother, Charlotte, and the autocracy and brutality of Soviet Russia, which sought to do away with individualism in favour of collectivism-gone was the idiosyncratic genius of Tolstoy and Chekhov, in its place was the cruelty of the Soviet state and the promotion of the collective will and shallow populism. The narrator’s French grandmother, Charlotte, is the light with which he is able to gain his sense identity outside of the shackles of the Soviet state.

    The narrator coalesces photos and anecdotes of his grandmother with the vibrancy of his own imagination, to re-imagine France as his grandmother would have experienced it; from the libidinous President to the picture of three mysterious women, his re-imagining of his grandmother’s past is they key to unlocking his own sense of individuality, of re-discovering something outside of the mundaneness of his life;

    “The second memory was do distant that it could not be dated. There was not even a precise me in its nebulousness. Just the intense sensation of light, the aromatic scent of plants and silvery lines crossing the blue density of air, which many years later I would identify as gossamer threads….for in my grandmother’s stories I was to rediscover all the elements of this memory; the autumn sun of a journey she made to Provence, the scent of those fields of lavender and even those gossamers floating in perfumed air.”

    The narrator eventually moves to France, his search for his grandmother’s past becomes fully realised as a journey of self-discovery as he finds the France of his imagination does not correspond to the reality, that it was not France, or Russia or any other tangible object that he was seeking, but rather the wonders of the imagination and memory which allow him to recreate and re-live the past of his grandmother.

  9. Jill Jill says:

    This is such a wonderful book that my words could never do it justice. The reflections on time, memories and his grandmother are beautifully written and almost poetic. I would love to know how much of this book is autobiography. The main character's trajectory seems to closely line up with what I have read about the author, but I would love to know if these are true memories of his grandmother. One of my favorite books.

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