I'm no Francophile, generally, although there is much to admire about the race. They are a great movie making people, for one thing. They truly excel at matters cinematic. Is that, perhaps, damning with feint praise? Could be. There is, after all, the French Revolution to consider. That was a two steps forward, two steps back, great leap forward moment that we should all be grateful for.
I will ashamedly admit that after fifteen years in Thailand I can read French much better than I can read Thai. I have never studied the language, although I have watched a great many of their movies in the original French (with subtitles). When I proctor tests, I love to try to read the French passages in reading comprehension tests. I get a very good sense of the passage, reading clearly many words in each sentence. This is not some kind of miraculous osmosis; it is merely a byproduct of having a very good vocabulary in English. After all, modern English owes more to the French language than it does to any language of the original Celts or Brits, or any of the prior conquerors, such as the Romans or the Germans (honorable mention to the Vikings).
It would be worth the effort to learn enough French to read Rimbaud and Baudelaire in the original. Translating poetry is such a crap-shoot, or buying translations of poetry is, anyway. Maybe read some of that guy Voltaire too, he seems like a winner.
I think this is a quote from Voltaire's Candide:
“I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one, 'O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous,' and God granted it.”
That's funny stuff, I'll be the first to admit.
I also limit my praying to one short prayer of my own invention:
“Lord, thank you for never letting the worst happen.”
If I can still make that prayer of thanks, at the age of seventy, I am truly beloved of God.