Les silences du Colonel Bramble

I am only a few pages in, but this book has already grasped me!

Written by André Maurois, who was a liaison officer/interpreter posted with the British regiment during the First World War, the book is fiction based on the author's own experiences.

Maurois was an Anglophile, and fascinated by the cultural differences between the British and French, and he uses the book to explore these.

Even in the first few pages, there are remarkable number of incredibly insightful things, for example:

“ ‘Don’t you yourself find," said Major Parker, "that intelligence is valued by you [the French] at more than its worth? We are like the young Persians of whom Herodotus speaks, and who, until the age of twenty, learnt only three things: how to ride, archery and not to lie.’ ”
“You despise the academic,” Aurelle replies, “and you quote Herodotus. Even better, I caught you the other day in flagrante, reading Xenophon. . . . Very few French, I assure you . . .”
“That’s very different,” Maj. Parker says. “The Greeks and Romans interest us, not as an object of enquiry, but as our ancestors and as sportsmen. I like Xenophon—he is the perfect example of a British gentleman.”

And, off the top of my head,:

"The only way to interest the French in a boxing match is to tell them that national honour is at stake. To interest the British in war, one must tell them that it is like a boxing match"

"We only go to school to be inculcated in the prejudices of our class"

"Tell a British that the boche are vicious, appalling characters, and he will mumble in mild approval. But tell him that the boche is a bad sportsman, and he will hate him" (sorry, I have mangled this one slightly)

On asking the British Major why he is a socialist, the major replies "I would rather be the oppressor than the oppressed" (which I think is rather astute, and explains Gordon Brown to a large degree!)

And that is just in the first 10 pages!

I will try to report back frequently with any other notably insightful comments.
Vive la difference !
le crab, I am of course reading it in the original langue des singes qui mangent du fromage

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