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Mark Jensen

Associate Professor of French

   A person is serious if he believes in what he would have others believe.
      -- Milan Kundera, "Introduction to a Variation," Jacques and His Master: An Homage to Diderot in Three Acts, trans. by Michael Henry Heim (New York: HarperPerennial, 1985), p. 6.

   Right now (what a word, now, what a dumb lie) . . .
      -- Julio Cortázar, "Blow-Up," Blow-Up and Other Stories, trans. by Paul Blackburn (New York: Pantheon, 1985), p. 118.

   Reality exists only through experience, and it must be personal experience.  However, once related, even personal experience becomes a narrative.  Reality can’t be verified and doesn’t need to be, that can be left for the reality of life experts to debate. What is important is life.  Reality is simply that I am sitting by the fire in this room which is black with grime and smoke and that I see the light of the fire dancing in his eyes.  Reality is myself, reality is only the perception of this instant and it can’t be related to another person.  All that needs to be said is that outside, a mist is enclosing the green-blue mountain in a haze and your heart is reverberating with the rushing water of a swift-flowing stream.
   -- Gao Xingjian, Soul Mountain, trans. Mabel Lee (New York: HarperCollins, 2000).

Seriously, now, really: Milan Kundera, a Czech writer, settled in France in 1975, became a French citizen, and in the mid-1990s adopted French as his primary means of literary expression. Julio Cortázar, raised in Argentina, moved to Paris in 1954 and spent most of his time there until his death in 1984. Gao Xingjian, who received the Nobel Prize in Literature for the year 2000, was born in Ganzhou in eastern China, but left China in 1987, became a French citizen in 1998, and lives near Paris. From three different, distant locations these three writers came to France, (like so many others), finding in its culture and heritage a source of nourishment for the mind and spirit — and the other sort of nourishment as well. You'll find things of interest on this page to convey something of the inexhaustible depths of French culture that have made it attractive in our planetary culture not only to tourists (France is the world's most popular tourist destination with 83.7 million visitors, 8.9 million more than the country in second place, the United States), but to spiritual and intellectual seekers.  Vive la France!

Contact me by email at jensenmk@plu.edu, by phone at 253.535.7219 during my office hours (Fall 2015: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m., or by mail at Department of Languages and Literatures, Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, WA 98447.

Last Update: February 8, 2016