La Parure

French reading practice with side-by-side translation

 Reading comprehension: See the links at the bottom for lessons related to the phrases in italics.

La Parure, de Guy de MaupassantThe Jewels, by Guy de Maupassant
C’Ă©tait une de ces jolies et charmantes filles, nĂ©es, comme par une erreur du destin, dans une famille d’employĂ©s. Elle n’avait pas de dot, pas d’espĂ©rances, aucun moyen d’ĂȘtre connue, comprise, aimĂ©e, Ă©pousĂ©e par un homme riche et distinguĂ© ; et elle se laissa marier avec un petit commis du ministĂšre de l’Instruction publique.
Translation

She was one of those pretty and charming girls, born, as if by an accident of fate, into a working-class family. She had no dowry, no hopes, no means of being known, understood, loved, married by a rich and distinguished man; and she let herself be married to a lowly clerk to the public education minister.

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Elle fut simple, ne pouvant ĂȘtre parĂ©e, mais malheureuse comme une dĂ©classĂ©e ; car les femmes n’ont point de caste ni de race, leur beautĂ©, leur grĂące et leur charme leur servant de naissance et de famille. Leur finesse native, leur instinct d’Ă©lĂ©gance, leur souplesse d’esprit sont leur seule hiĂ©rarchie, et font des filles du peuple les Ă©gales des plus grandes dames.
Translation

She was simple, as she couldn’t be adorned, but unhappy as if she’d lost status; since women have no caste or breed, their beauty, grace, and charm serve as their birth and family. Their natural refinement, their instinctive elegance, their suppleness of spirit are their only hierarchy, and make the daughters of ordinary people the equals of the greatest ladies.

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Elle souffrait sans cesse, se sentant nĂ©e pour toutes les dĂ©licatesses et tous les luxes. Elle souffrait de la pauvretĂ© de son logement, de la misĂšre des murs, de l’usure des siĂšges, de la laideur des Ă©toffes. Toutes ces choses, dont une autre femme de sa caste ne se serait mĂȘme pas aperçue, la torturaient et l’indignaient. La vue de la petite Bretonne qui faisait son humble mĂ©nage Ă©veillait en elle des regrets dĂ©solĂ©s et des rĂȘves Ă©perdus.
Translation

She suffered incessantly, feeling that she’d been born for all delicacies and all luxuries. She suffered from the poverty of her lodgings, from the wretched walls, from the wear and tear on the seats, from the ugliness of the fabrics. All of these things, that another woman from her caste wouldn’t even have noticed, tortured and annoyed her. The sight of the young Breton girl who did her lowly cleaning awoke in her sad regrets and distraught dreams.

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Elle songeait aux antichambres nettes, capitonnĂ©es avec des tentures orientales, Ă©clairĂ©es par de hautes torchĂšres de bronze, et aux deux grands valets en culotte courte qui dorment dans les larges fauteuils, assoupis par la chaleur lourde du calorifĂšre. Elle songeait aux grands salons vĂȘtus de soie ancienne, aux meubles fins portant des bibelots inestimables, et aux petits salons coquets parfumĂ©s, faits pour la causerie de cinq heures avec les amis les plus intimes, les hommes connus et recherchĂ©s dont toutes les femmes envient et dĂ©sirent l’attention.
Translation

She dreamed of tidy antechambers, lined with oriental hangings, lit by high bronze candelabra, and of two great servants in short breeches who would sleep in large chairs, dozing by the stove’s sultry heat. She dreamed of large sitting rooms dressed in ancient silk; of fine furniture holding priceless curios; and of small, charming, perfumed sitting rooms, made for chatting for five hours with the most intimate friends, the well-known, sought-after men whose attention all women wanted and desired.

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Quand elle s’asseyait, pour dĂźner, devant la table ronde couverte d’une nappe de trois jours, en face de son mari qui dĂ©couvrait la soupiĂšre en dĂ©clarant d’un air enchantĂ© : « Ah ! le bon pot-au-feu ! je ne sais rien de meilleur que cela… Â» elle songeait aux dĂźners fins, aux argenteries reluisantes, aux tapisseries peuplant les murailles de personnages anciens et d’oiseaux Ă©tranges au milieu d’une forĂȘt de fĂ©erie ; elle songeait aux plats exquis servis en des vaisselles merveilleuses, aux galanteries chuchotĂ©es et Ă©coutĂ©es avec un sourire de sphinx, tout en mangeant la chair rose d’une truite ou des ailes de gĂ©linotte.
Translation

When she sat, for dinner, before the round table covered with a three-day-old cloth, facing her husband who uncovered the soup tureen while declaring delightedly, "Ah, a good beef stew! I don’t know anything better than that…" she dreamed of fine dinners, of gleaming silverware, of tapestries of ancient figures and strange birds in the middle of an enchanted forest filling the walls; she dreamed of exquisite dishes served on marvelous plates, of gallant remarks whispered and heard with a sphinx’s smile, all while eating the rosy flesh of trout or grouse wings.

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Elle n’avait pas de toilettes, pas de bijoux, rien. Et elle n’aimait que cela ; elle se sentait faite pour cela. Elle eĂ»t tant dĂ©sirĂ© plaire, ĂȘtre enviĂ©e, ĂȘtre sĂ©duisante et recherchĂ©e.
Translation

She had no gowns, no jewels, nothing. And that was all she loved; she felt herself made for it. She would have so desired to please, to be envied, to be seductive and sought after.

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 Translation by LKL. I chose to entitle it The Jewels as that is a more accurate translation than the typical The Necklace or The Diamond Necklace.
La Parure est un conte français classique. Écrit en 1884, il est dans le domaine public. TĂ©lĂ©chargez l’original en format Ă©lectronique pour lire la suite gratuitement :

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The Necklace is a classic French short story. It was written in 1884 and is now in the public domain. You can read the online for free: The Necklace
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La Parure, de Maupassant

 Reading comprehension

Grammar

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