I’m on radio silence, as I’m at the Naval War College conference on international law, which is where all the cool people are this week.
I was last on radio silence finishing up my short policy manuscript on UN-US relations. I’m not sure I’d describe it as “done,” but the editors took it away from me, saying that I’d keep fiddling forever. Which is true, as the following bleg demonstrates. I’m considering for an epigraph, if there’s room for one in a book so short, a riff on … well, Stendhal. (So sue me.)
There is a well-known (well, well-known if you’re me) line in The Red and the Black, “Could it be that she is a prude grown tired of her calling?” (This, in the context of advice to Julian on how to court her.) In the original French, it is (I still can’t figure out how to do the marks on my Mac): “Ne serait-ce point une prude lasse de son metier?”
Because my little US-UN policy essay, Returning to Earth, is about the appeal to “multilateralism” and “engagement” as mechanisms for US withdrawal from its role as security hegemon and, hence, provider of certain global public goods – what in the book I call “withdrawal into multilateralism” – you can see that the line “lasse de son metier” has appeal for me. I want to re-work it slightly, and change “prude” to “America.” My French is good enough for reading Stendhal and a few others with a dictionary, but help me be sure that I’ve handled the cases correctly. Is this correct French? Un Amerique? Une Amerique? Is “lasse” still the right form? If not, how would you switch “prude” for “America” but leaving the rest as is except necessary grammatic corrections?:
Ne serait-ce point un Amerique lasse de son metier?
Help with the language only please, in the comments, we can discuss the substantive thesis when the book appears. Which is to say, once I stop fiddling.
By the way, one reason I’m comfortable messing with the great Stendhal for my own American purposes is that he habitually headed chapters with epigraphs that he wrote from whole cloth and freely attributed as he liked. When I get back to things, I’ll post the one from The Red and the Black about making one’s first appearance in society, panting with faintness like a young girl at a ball (from memory, I paraphrase), attributed to … Immanuel Kant. (“Needless to say,” drily said the editor in the footnotes to one school book edition, “Kant never wrote any such thing.”)