Each June, I review my blog posts as well as the stats of my blog at www.frenchquest.com . There are several reasons for this: 1) WordPress recommends this exercise in order to keep current and relevant in the “blogosphere”; 2) to see which of my blog posts are being frequented and read around the world; and 3) the most important, to revisit my journey through the year of consuming literature, art, and language.
I love writing blogs. I love sharing information that I have discovered through reading and studying about topics of interest to me and hopefully to my readers. It is similar to studying for a class in college and then meeting with a study group to share your notes to aid in the learning experience. I also love connecting with other bloggers from all over the world who hold the same interests and help me discover new insights and truths about these passions.
My FrenchQuest journey this past year began with a “France: Revisited” theme [see posts] where I looked at my past visits in France from a personal and philosophical view. Instead of focusing on tourist attractions and reviews, I focused on the intellectual, emotional and spiritual pulls of these destinations asking myself:
- Why is it important for me to revisit certain places in Paris but can easily forego a trip to the Arc, the Tower, Montmartre;
- Other than a profitable language immersion experience at the Sorbonne [see post] which helped me to obtain a graduate degree in French, why was this trip necessary for my spiritual and emotional well-being?
- Why has Strasbourg become a spiritual pilgrimage for me [see post]?;
- What were Victor’s Hugo’s footprints that he left in France, specifically Paris, and why is his legacy so important? [see post];
- Why have the beaches in Normandie (specifically Etretat) been beckoning me to come for over a decade? ;
- What is the value and purpose in visiting literary heroes, war heroes and scientists in a National cemetery, Père Lachaise? How has this become a high priority on my list [see post] ?
This time of reflection and processing while writing France: Revisited brought me much joy and clarity. I will continue with this series as opportunities arise.
Secondly, I continued with MY QUEST FOR MOBY-DICK this year by rereading the masterpiece, Moby Dick, along with scholarly reviews of Melville’s own personal quest for knowledge through cetological studies of whales by Cuvier and Beale [see Howard P. Vincent’s The Trying out of Moby-Dick]. I have always been fascinated by whales:” the living whale in his full majesty and significance which can only be seen at sea in unfathomable waters…” to quote Melville. I get it. “I am horror struck at this antemosaic, unsourced existence of the unspeakable terrors of the whale, which having been before all time, must needs exist after all humane ages are over.”
Over my term break in January, I translated Voltaire’s Lettres d’Alsace hoping to find some clues of the nineteenth century life in Strasbourg, from which my family’s roots hail. I anticipated with every page turn to see the name Louisa Chapeau or Gideon Pillar as I read. Unfortunately, Voltaire did not mention them in his correspondences in Lettres, but it was fun to dream!
My FRENCHQUEST took me next to Napoleon in Egypt as I reread one of my favorite books, Mirage by Nina Burleigh [see post]. I have always been fascinated by Napoleon’s quests across the world and particularly to Egypt which at that time was an unknown country in the Middle East: unmapped , its history and people obscure. Since my first reading of Mirage in 2007, when it was published, it has become so much more meaningful now that I have personal knowledge of the Jardin des Plantes and its curators at that time, Geoffrey Saint-Hillaire and Georges Cuvier.
To conclude my Year-in-Review, I have taken yet another detour from my FrenchQuest to a CZECHQUEST! In May, my daughter Madison and I visited Vienna and Prague and I knew very little about the history or culture of these countries before my visit [see post].
Thus, I began to discover these worlds dating back to the 1st century. My modes of discovery are quite varied: 1) I am using the Atlas du Moyen Age as a reference of the great dynasties from the 1st to the 15th centuries; 2) Madeleine Albright’s Prague Winter about the German occupation of Czechoslovakia and Europe from 1937-1948; 3) Documentaries about the Habsburg Dynasty and Holy Roman Empire on Great Courses Lectures and Netflix!
I have already posted my first blog for my CzechQuest– My Czechquest: Bohemian Rhapsody, the eclectic region, not the song! [see link] and will subsequently post the next blog in this series soon!
Of course, language acquisition continues to be a strong pursuit of mine. I am still translating German for Jerusalem Messenger ministry newsletters, Russian and Greek scriptures in my Bible studies, and French every opportunity I can [see my Translating Hugo, Baudelaire Longfellow, and Dickinson posts].
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Copyright 2019. May be quoted in part of full only with attribution to Robyn Lowrie (www.frenchquest.com)