A well-known American scholar of Descartes can read and translate French but has never learned to speak it. When he is invited to deliver a paper in Paris in French he begins a humorous and sometimes harrowing voyage on the rough seas of learning to speak a foreign language in late middle age. 5.5x8". Annotation copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or.
Richard Watson, a well-known American scholar of Descartes, can read French. He can translate French. But he has never learned to speak it. When he is invited to deliver a paper in Paris - in French - he begins a hilarious and often harrowing voyage on the rough seas of learning to speak a foreign language in late middle age.In the course of the book, Watson digresses on the contrasts between France and America, on Americans in Paris, and on the mysteries of French engineering. He introduces eccentric French cave explorers and still more eccentric French scholars. But above all, we meet Watson himself - a cave explorer and a teacher with a mid-western reluctance to make his mouth perform the contortions required by French - as he confronts his own national prejudices and his obsession with learning to speak French.