Thursday, October 8, 2015

Les Mots Justes

Les Mots Justes:
Isabelle Regnier's opening sentence in her news report about Chantal Akerman in Le Monde on October 6 was as follows: "Chantal Akerman s’est donné la mort, lundi 5 octobre au soir." I have no first-hand or even second-hand knowledge of the particulars. I'm just speculating on the choice of words here. It strikes me that Regnier's formulation is gentler, might suggest that in some instances death could be more like a gift, a relief ie something that you give yourself, Keats' easeful death. The possible English translations have different implications: "took her own life" (more aggressive) "died at her own hand" (kind of neutral but a bit too specific).The Englsih language reports I've seen referred to "suicide" or "suspected suicide". The Latinate -cide suffix is both more abstract and more violent with its affinities to homicide, patricide, fratricide and so on." We don't know the circumstances, and at this point it would seem inappropriate and indiscreet to ask. But to me, the natural corollary to "s'est donné la mort", which actually both Isabelle Regnier and most other writers in the press seem to have embraced, is immediately to segue to an appreciation of "les filmes qu'elle nous a donné"
the works that she has given us, her stellar cinematic legacy. LB
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