Sunday Sentence

Every weekend I participate in David Abrams’s “#SundaySentence” project, sharing the best sentence I’ve read during the past week, “out of context and without commentary.”

Normally, I’d consider an exclamation point to render a sentence complete. Normally, I’d share a sentence rendered in English. Normally, I’d try to adhere to the rule of offering no context and no commentary.

But on the 75th anniversary of the utterance of these words, I’ve just reread them, and I’m making an exception.

Paris ! Paris outragé ! Paris brisé ! Paris martyrisé ! mais Paris libéré ! libéré par lui-même, libéré par son peuple avec le concours des armées de la France, avec l’appui et le concours de la France tout entière, de la France qui se bat, de la seule France, de la vraie France, de la France éternelle.

Source: Charles de Gaulle, “Discours de l’Hôtel de Ville de Paris, 25 août 1944”

[As cited in Henry Rousso’s The Vichy Syndrome (trans. Arthur Goldhammer): “Paris! Paris humiliated! Paris broken! Paris martyrized! But Paris liberated! Liberated by itself, by it own people with the help of the armies of France, with the support and aid of France as a whole, of fighting France, of the only France, of the true France, of eternal France.”]

4 thoughts on “Sunday Sentence

  1. April Crews says:

    I love it! Thanks for the translation!

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      “De rien!”

  2. He hated the fact that the British, Americans and Canadians were orchestrating D-day and that the French needed them for liberation. He was the leader the Free French needed, and boy, could he rouse a crowd.

    And I’m sending a prayer of thanks up to my school French teacher — I understood the original French! Also thanks to de Gaulle’s splendid diction.

    My favourite wartime quote has t be
    “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

    —to me it covers all those who fought, whatever nationality and gender.

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      De Gaulle was a magnificent orator. And you’re quite right–part of the commentary I did not provide would have talked about the way in which his speech cast a certain vision of France and its wartime experience–with lasting effects. And yes–that “Never….” line is also so memorable.

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