E3S1 Liesl Schillinger

I met Liesl Schillinger, the literary critic and translator, 11 years ago. I had just been appointed as a negotiator for France at the UN Security Council in New York. As a critic for The New York Times, she was invited to every book party in town, and she generously took me to every one. Here we talked about translation (4:55), French books (13:54), and secret recommendations for visiting France (19:58). She also surprised me by declaring her love for the most unexpected French singer (21:17).

Show Notes 

The below notes are designed to enrich the listener's experience by further explaining the more obscure French references mentioned throughout the show.

11:47 Madame Bovary 

One of the most famous works of French literature, and often required reading for middle school and high school students. Written by Gustave Flaubert and published in 1857, it tells the story of Emma Bovary as she tries to escape the banality of provincial life and dreams of the colorful life of the heroines in the books she reads.

13:57 Albertine

Bookstore, reading room, and venue dedicated to French-American cultural exchange within the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the U.S. at 972 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10075. Carries more than 14,000 contemporary and classic titles from 30 French-speaking countries in French and English. For information and hours, consult Albertine.com.

17:17 Dix pour cent (Call My Agent)

French TV series following the lives of employees at a talent agency. This series was immediately met with great success, and many prominent French actors have appeared in it–– played themselves––with lots of self-deprecation and humor!

17:23 Le Bureau des légendes

French political thriller TV series, following agents of the DGSE, France’s external security service. It has been praised by both critics and viewers as one of France’s best TV series.

17:55 Dîner en blanc

Read more about this event in Liesl Schillinger’s New York Times piece on the Paris and New York dinners in white

20:23 Bayeux Tapestry

Dating back to the 11th century, this 230-ft long tapestry depicts the Norman conquest of England. Recognized as part of the Memory of the World UNESCO program, it is on display in the Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux in Bayeux, Normandy.

20:30 Castles of the Loire 

The Loire Valley is home to France’s most beautiful castles. Chambord, Chenonceau, and Amboise are the biggest and most famous, but there are countless other castles in this region, making it a paradise for architecture, history and photography fans!

21:02 Carmel de Lisieux

Located in Lisieux, Normandy, this monastery dates back to 1838 and was home to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.

21:20 Lyon

Pronounced like the French word for “lion,” Lyon is France’s third most populous city, and is considered the capital of gastronomy. If you follow Liesl Schillinger’s advice and go down to Lyon, make sure to look for a “bouchon,” which is the name for traditional Lyon restaurants!

22:23 Daniel Balavoine, Hervé Vilard, Pierre Bachelet

Balavoine, Vilard, and Bachelet are famous French singers from the 1970s. 

The below Spotify playlist is inspired by the French songs and artists that Liesl Schillinger mentions in this episode: