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The opening session of the conference was a standing room only event, with welcoming speeches by George Molinie, the president of the University of Paris-Sorbonne, and Helene Carrere d'Encausse, secretary of the Academie francaise, as well as Hilaire Multon, conseiller of the Ministry of Culture.
The first of the half-dozen prizes religiously awaited each year by publishers looking for a sales boost, is a Grand Prix awarded by the Academie Francaise, the almost four-century-old watchdog of the French language.
It remains an excellent starting place for those interested in the author of the most complete picture that we have of the French language in the era of Racine, La Fontaine and Boileau, fellow members of the Academie francaise whom Furetiere counted as friends until controversy erupted upon his announcement of the imminent publication of his Dictionnaire universel in 1684.
The Academie Francaise is infamous for its efforts to stop--and failures to block--English loan words like le weekend and la sexe-appeal.
"Deux historiens a l'Academie" sheds light on the complex character of Louis Duchesne, Bremond's predecessor at the Academie francaise, and more broadly on the condition of Catholic historians of the time, especially the constraints they experienced.
The speaker, a member of the Academie Francaise, moved the audience when he spoke of a Jewish girl who missed out on a golden opportunity to escape a concentration camp to remain near her parents.
Well, it's simple, secretary of the Academie Francaise Maurice Druon told the European Parliament this week: "The language of Montesquieu is unbeatable." M Druon claimed that while "the Italian language is the language of song, German is good for philosophy and English for poetry, French is best at precision, it has a rigour to it.
It's not the first time an institution has tried to maintain the integrity of its native tongue in our increasingly global world--the Academie Francaise has made efforts to prevent the influx of English words into the French language, with some success--but this may be the first time fines have been assessed on offenders!
Les Bienveillantes, the debut novel from author Jonathan Littel, has been awarded the top literary prize of the Academie Francaise.
"I've crashed weddings, funerals, high school reunions and the rules committee at the Academie francaise," reports one 30-something board crasher.
By contrast, the Academie Francaise struggles Canute-like to keep foreign terms from the Gallic tongue, expunging words like 'corner kick' from the French lexicon.
And that is why Baudelaire presented himself to the Academie Francaise.
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