Thursday, February 25, 2010

Weight loss and ghost writers

I've never tried weight loss drinks, though a couple of members of my family have, and found them effective. As with all diet approaches, it's a matter of keeping the weight off once you've lost it! Certainly the drinks helped. But motivation to lose weight helps even more.

On another tack entirely, I came across this intriguing paragraph yesterday:

The film’s plot is also controversial, based on a disputed literary theory that [Alexandre] Dumas’s anonymous white collaborator, Auguste Maquet, should get much of the credit for the plots and drafts of Dumas’ most famous works. "Possibly for commercial reasons, they are white-washing Dumas in order to blacken him further," said the Council of Black Associations. Ironically, the term in French for a ghostwriter is a “nègre littéraire (a literary Negro),” and ghostwriting is called “negritude.”

The paragraph comes from an article about a new film on the life of Dumas, in which white actor, Gerard Depardieu, plays the writer. However, as Dumas once responded to a critic: “My father was a mulatto, my grandfather was a Negro, and my great-grandfather a monkey. You see, sir, my family starts where yours ends.”

I don't know that I've ever been aware that Dumas was a 'figure of colour' as the French apparently put it. He's not high on the list of authors I've read, although I found The Count of Monte Cristo surprisingly absorbing. All 900 small-print pages of it!

However, there's been a bit of a hue and cry over Depardieu playing him in a film, and the question has been asked: aren't there any actors of colour in France who can play him, and, will black actors be allowed to play white roles? I'm sure there are, and possibly they could be, but Depardieu is one of France's great drawcards when it comes to promoting films....for better or worse.

However, all the controversy aside, I think the most intriguing thing I found about this article was the language used for the ghost-writer:
nègre littéraire (a literary Negro),” and ghostwriting: “negritude.

Isn't language the oddest thing? I never ceased to be amazed at the way we use words.

Back to my first thought: perhaps Dumas could have profited a little by those famous weight loss drinks - if they'd been around in his day. Or perhaps, like so many other people of weight in the 19th century, he didn't consider it a big issue.
Post a Comment