They make house calls…



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Flowers and Fruit, 1899 - Louis Valtat
Flowers and Fruit par Louis Valtat, 1899 (

I apologize for not posting more frequently. First, someone is reading my posts as I write them. He or she may have the best intentions. Still, I have always worked alone. Although I have read and continue to read books and articles on Molière and insert quotations in learned articles, I usually present a significantly personal analysis of Molière.

It seems, however, that I may henceforth publish shorter posts. Last Wednesday, I tried to do some online banking. However, the company has created a new and safer version of its online tools. I followed the instructions, and a message appeared confirming that all was well. However, I could not log in.

So I phoned the company and waited for a few minutes until someone was available, but I started to cry when a young man answered. Technologies are a genuine obstacle, and technical problems may trigger a vulnerability. At any rate, within a few minutes, two large policemen were inside my apartment. I put on my mask, and we spoke.

I mentioned that my cat had died on 29 November 2019 and that it would soon be a year since he died. Moreover, I had been inside my apartment since March, avoiding the coronavirus. As well, in the space of three years, I had failed to settle in my apartment. Finally, Sherbrooke is now a red zone. One cannot call a carpenter, until a degree of safety has been reached. Who would help during a pandemic?

One of the policemen suggested I adopt a cat, and one offered to remove a heavy box from the hallway. They were good persons. I thanked them because I felt much better. It had been an accident.

One returns to life as usual, a narrower life because of Covid-19, but life.

However, I reflected that in the days of the coronavirus, if a citizen of Sherbrooke, Quebec, feels distraught, his or her best help could be the police. They are available twenty-four hours a day and they make house calls.

Love to everyone 💕

Afficher l’image source
Anemones and Green Jug by Louis Valtat, ca. 1926 (courtesy Art Resource, NY)

© Micheline Walker
20 November 2020

Chronicling Covid-19 (7): The Plan



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I would invite you to reread the article I posted yesterday.

I have not changed my mind. I believe that we have to test people and let the healthy return to the workplace. Self-isolation alone will not keep us safe. Not if we can no longer work and earn a living. There is no overnight miracle, but testing may allow the economy to recover more quickly.

Testing is much easier than discovering a vaccine. As I mentioned yesterday, there is an American group who is working with doctors and scientists and would send the healthy back to a safe workplace. Testing would be needed.

A vaccine will be produced, but it may not be produced in the foreseeable future, luck being a factor. Who will come up with the brilliant idea that will allow a cure and also allow the world to be as it should be. We can now see the magnificent Himalayan range of mountains.

Leaders, doctors and scientists must work together, but expertise must inform decisions made by elected officials. Mr Trump is ready to send people back to work to save the economy. But we cannot allow people who test positive to return to work. They must still self-isolate, or the pandemic will continue.

A Triage: Testing

What I am suggesting is a triage that would separate the healthy from the sick and allow those who test negative to return to work. The sick would be treated, but the healthy would keep the economy alive. We have new tools: Skype, etc. Although humanity has been scourged for millennia, it has survived.

I have a healthy nephew whose employees are healthy, but they are not allowed to work. So why do we not test them? Testing was carried out in Germany quite successfully.

We cannot close the future down. We cannot let massive unemployment follow the pandemic. That is a grim scenario. Scientists would continue to search for a vaccine, but the economy would not crumble. Testing may be difficult to organize, but it has to be organized. There is no other way.

Expertise is what world leaders need. I do not wish to trivialize world leaders, but they need guidance from doctors, scientists and economists, which is leadership in the days of the novel coronavirus.

Streets would still be disinfected as well as the workplace, but we would ensure economic stability and lift the world’s morale. Can we truly justify the self-isolation of my nephew and his healthy employees?

I am not a medical doctor, a scientist, or an economist. I am quite simply civic-minded. If we test and test, we will find those who test negative. I’m scared, because this virus may be airborne. Hence cleaning the workplace. But why isolate people who would test negative and create a new nightmare.


The Creation
, Die Schöpfung, by Joseph Haydn


Jerome Adams, Surgeon General of the United States.

© Micheline Walker
12 April 2020








Molière’s “L’Avare:” Doublings



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L’Avare by François Boucher (drawing) and Laurent Cars (engraving) (Photo credit: Pinterest)


  • Plautus (c. 254 – 184 BCE)
  • commedia dell’arte
  • French 17th-century misers: sources
  • Hellenic (ancient Greek) sources
  • French medieval farces and fabliaux
  • translations into English

As indicated in a previous post, Molière‘s L’Avare, The Miser, was first performed on 9 September 1668 at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal. It is a five-act play, in prose, inspired by Roman dramatist Plautus‘ (254 – 148 BCE) Aulularia, the Pot of Gold. As we have seen, it is also rooted in the commedia dell’arte as well as Italian comedies and tales, and in France’s own medieval farces and the largely scatological fabliaux.

However, Molière also drew his material from La Belle Plaideuse (1655), by François le Métel de Boisrobert, which features a father-as-usurer, and Jean Donneau de Visé‘s La Mère coquette (1665), where a father and son are in love with the same woman.[1]

L’Avare is one of Molière’s better-known comedies and it was translated into English by Thomas Shadwell (1772) and Henry Fielding, the author of Tom Jones. However, it was not a huge success in Molière’s own days. It has been speculated that Molière’s audience expected a play written in verse, the nobler alexandrine verse (12 feet or syllables), first used in the twelfth-century Roman d’Alexandre.


L’Avare (

The dramatis personæ is:

Harpagon, father to Cléante, in love with Mariane.
Cléante, Harpagon’s son, lover to Marianne.
Valère, son to Anselme, lover to Élise, and “intendant” to Harpagon
Anselme / Dom Thomas d’Alburcy, father to Valère and Mariane, and 
Master Simon, broker.
Master Jacques, cook and coachman to Harpagon.
La Flèche, valet to Cléante.
Brindavoine, and La Merluche, lackeys to Harpagon.
A Magistrate and his Clerk.
Élise, daughter to Harpagon.
Mariane, daughter to Anselme.
Frosine, an intriguing woman.
Mistress Claude, servant to Harpagon.

The scene is at Paris, in Harpagon’s house.

Act One

We will be focusing on the manner in which the young couples featured in the Miser, L’Avare, manage to overcome the obstacle to their marriage. Short of a miracle, they are condemned to do as their father’s greed dictates. All the elements of L’Avare’s plot are introduced in the first act of the play, which reflects the Græco-Roman origins of comedy and tragedy. As a five-act play, Molière’s L’Avare is a ‘grande comédie,’ not a farce (Molière wrote both), and its plot is the archetypal struggle, also called the agôn, between, on the one hand, the alazṓn of Greek comedy, or the blocking character, and, on the other hand, the eirôn, the young couple and their supporters: valets, maids, zanni. In other words, it is a traditional blondin-berne-barbon plot. The young couples will succeed in marrying.

A Comedy of Manners and A Comedy of Intrigue

  • doublings: two young couples and two fathers
  • Harpagon is the father of Élise and Cléante
  • Anselme is Valère and Mariane’s father, which we do not know until the fifth act (V. v) of the comedy

L’Avare is both a comedy of manners, a form we inherited mostly from Greek dramatist Menander, and a comédie d’intrigue, a comedy where the plot prevails. As the portrayal of a miser, L’Avare is a comedy of manners (see the full text in Wikisource and eBook #6923). Harpagon’s greed constitutes the obstacle to the marriage of Cléante (Harpagon) and Mariane as well as the marriage of Valère and Élise (Harpagon).

Cléante gambles and wins, which allows him to buy elegant clothes and court Mariane, but he does not have sufficient money to marry and must therefore go to a moneylender. Ironically, the moneylender happens to be Harpagon himself who demands no less than the now metaphorical “pound of flesh” (Shylock) as repayment. The moneylender episode—act two, scene two (II. i) [II. 2]—shows to what extent Harpagon’s greed is an obstacle to the marriage of our young couples. The plot advances in that Cléante cannot obtain a loan that might enable his marriage. Another “trick” must be devised. However, plot and manners (greed) are inextricably woven.

Obstacles to Two Marriages

  • “genre” art
  • a family tyrant

The action takes place in Harpagon’s house in Paris and can be described as genre arta depiction of ordinary people engaged in ordinary activities. Will G Moore has remarked that Molière’s characters

“[a]re concerned with everyday life; the stuff of which it was made was by tradition the doings of ordinary people in ordinary surroundings.”[2]

L’Avare is a five-act comedy, but it is written in prose, not verse, and Harpagon, our blocking character, is an enriched bourgeois. Although he does not feed his horse properly, he owns a carriage and he has servants. As depicted by François Boucher, the interior of his house is rather elegant. However, he is extremely greedy and he behaves as though he owned his children. He is a domestic tyrant. In act one, Harpagon states that he has arranged for his children to marry, but has not consulted them. Cléante will marry a “certain widow,” our tyrant has just heard of, and Élise will be “given” to Mr. Anselme, a gentleman who will not request the customary dowry, or “sans dot

Quant à ton frère, je lui destine une certaine veuve dont ce matin on m’est venu parler; et, pour toi, je te donne au seigneur Anselme. (Harpagon to Élise, [I. iv])
[As to your brother, I have thought for him of a certain widow, of whom I heard this morning; and you I shall give to Mr. Anselme. [1. 6] [eBook #6923]

Élise does not know Mr Anselme and refuses to marry him, threatening to commit suicide. As for Harpagon, he plans to marry Mariane, who loves his son (Cléante). For Harpagon, Mr Anselme is a perfect choice because Élise will marry at no cost to the miser: “sans dot.” (I. iv FR) (I. 6 EN) 

Harpagon’s Rigidity

Valère will attempt to save Élise from a marriage to a person other than himself. Valère, Harpagon’s “intendant,” begs Harpagon to free Élise. However, the objections he presents are followed by Harpagon’s “sans dot” (without a dowry). Molière’s blocking characters are inflexible or rigid. This rigidity is the feature Henri Bergson (18 October 1859 – 4 January 1941) attached to the comical or comedic in his Laughter. Valère’s objections having been rebuked by a litany of “sans dot,” he is literally speechless. He simply repeats what the Harpagon, the miser, has told him:

Lorsqu’on s’offre de prendre une fille sans dot, on ne doit point regarder plus avant. Tout est renfermé là-dedans, et sans dot tient lieu de beauté, de jeunesse, de naissance, d’honneur, de sagesse, et de probité. (Valère à Harpagon, I. v)
[When a man offers to marry a girl without a dowry, we ought to look no farther. Everything is comprised in that, and “without dowry” compensates for want of beauty, youth, birth, honour, wisdom, and probity.] (I. 10[eBook #6923]

But there is some hope. As the story goes, Valère’s father, Dom Thomas d’Alburcy, is believed to have drowned when he and his family (his wife, Valère and Mariane) were fleeing Naples. It appears, however, that Dom Thomas has survived and that he is a man of means. Valère was looking for him when he met Élise. At her request, he decided to stay near her and made himself Harpagon’s “intendant,” but someone else is looking for Valère’s father.

Mais enfin, si je puis, comme je l’espère, retrouver mes parents, nous n’aurons pas beaucoup de peine à nous le rendre favorable. J’en attends des nouvelles avec impatience, et j’en irai chercher moi-même, si elles tardent à venir. (I. i)
[However, if I can find my parents, as I fully hope I shall, they will soon be favourable to us. I am expecting news of them with great impatience; but if none comes I will go in search of them myself.] [I.1]

The curtain will then fall on an anagnorisis  (V. v) [V. 5], a recognition scene. However, when Anselme enters Harpagon’s house and hears that there is opposition to the contract he has come to sign, he tells Harpagon that he will not coerce a woman into a mariage, which frees Élise. He also remarks that he will not “lay claim to a heart which has already bestowed itself,” thereby allowing Mariane, his daughter, to marry Cléante, Harpagon’s son, rather than Harpagon.

Ce n’est pas mon dessein de me faire épouser par force, et de rien prétendre à un cœur qui se serait donné ; mais pour vos intérêts, je suis prêt à les embrasser ainsi que les miens propres. (Anselme to Harpagon [V. v])
[It is not my intention to force anybody to marry me, and to lay claim to a heart which has already bestowed itself; but as far as your interests are concerned, I am ready to espouse them as if they were my own.] (V. 5) [eBook #6923]

Anselme seems a fine gentleman whom the anagnorisis (V. v) [V. 5], the dénouement (see Dramatic Structure, Wikipedia), will identify as Valère and Mariane’s father. A greedy Harpagon has chosen Anselme as the perfect groom because Anselme would marry Élise without requesting the customary dowry, or at no cost to the miser: “sans dot.” (I. v) [I. 5]


Qu’il faut manger pour vivre, et non pas vivre pour manger. (III. i)

A Comedy of Intrigue

  • a plot or intrigue
  • a chiasmus (a mirror image in a sentence)
  • a quiproquo (a misunderstanding)
  • the doubling of the father figure (mirror image)

Harpagon’s greed is enormous, so students are taught that Molière concentrates on manners rather than the plot. He does, but in L’Avare, although the plot is mainly episodic, manners and plot (intrigue) are inextricably linked. For instance, when Harpagon is having a meal prepared to celebrate the marriage(s) that are to take place that very day, Harpagon hears Valère say that il faut manger pour vivre and not vivre pour manger, that one should eat to live and not live to eat, Harpagon so loves Valère’s witty chiasmus, that he wants these words engraved in gold and placed above his fireplace. (III. i) [III. 1] It is unlikely that Harpagon would use gold to celebrate greed, but it is true to character and comical. A meal often ends comedies and may solemnize a wedding.

Moreover, it is a quiproquo, a comical misunderstanding which, in L’Avare, leads to the anagnorisis. When Harpagon realizes his cassette has disappeared and may have been stolen, he loses his composure and accuses Valère, at the instigation of Maître Jacques. Maître Jacques resents the trust Harpagon has placed in Valère. If he could, Harpagon would have Valère drawn and quartered. Valère has not stolen Harpagon’s cassette, but he and Élise have signed a promise to marry another. Valère has ‘robbed’ Harpagon, but it is Élise he has taken, not a cassette. (V. iii & iv) [V. 3 & 4] [eBook #6923]

Anselme first steps foot on the stage as the battle rages. Given Élise’s promise, he cannot and would not marry her. However, Valère stands accused of a theft and wants to tell his story. The anagnorisis has now begun. To give himself credibility, Valère says that he is the son of Dom Thomas d’Alburcy, which Anselme hesitates to believe because he is a friend of Dom Those and, to his knowledge, all members of Dom Thomas’ family drowned as they were trying to flee Naples, which is not the case.Valère says that he was rescued by Pedro, a servant, and later adopted by the captain of the ship he and Pedro were allowed to board. He can prove his identity. As he speaks, Mariane realizes that Valère is her brother.

For their part, Mariane and her mother were also saved, but their helpers were corsaires, pirates, who enslaved them. Following ten years of enslavement, they were released and they returned to Naples where they could not find Dom Thomas d’Alburcy. They therefore picked up a small inheritance in Genoa and moved to Paris. Mariane’s mother is Valère’s  mother and Dom Thomas d’Alburcy’s wife. As he watches this scene, Dom Thomas learns that no member of his family died leaving Naples. He has just found his children and his wife. He would not stand in the way of Valère and Mariane’s marriage who wish to marry Harpagon’s children. Le sieur Anselme knows le sieur Harpagon.

Le Ciel, mes enfants, ne me redonne point à vous, pour être contraire à vos vœux. Seigneur Harpagon, vous jugez bien que le choix d’une jeune personne tombera sur le fils plutôt que sur le père. Allons, ne vous faites point dire ce qu’il n’est point nécessaire d’entendre, et consentez ainsi que moi à ce double hyménée. (V. v)

[Heaven, my dear children, has not restored you to me that I might oppose your wishes. Mr. Harpagon, you must be aware that the choice of a young girl is more likely to fall upon the son than upon the father. Come, now, do not force people to say to you what is unnecessary, and consent, as I do, to this double marriage.] [V. 5] [eBook #6923]


Molière’s L’Avare has an intrigue which resembles the intrigue of most comedies. A young couple wishes to marry, but a blocking character, or alazṓnprevents their marriage. However, Molière has doubled the young couple who are a brother and sister wishing to marry a brother and a sister, so Molière has therefore doubled the father figure which happens during the anagnorisis. As Dom Thomas d’Alburcy, Anselme is the eirôn who allows the young couples to marry.

The anagnorisis, the recognition scene, does not take place unannounced. As mentioned earlier, as he despairs,Valère tells Élise that he hopes to find his father who may still be alive. Act one (I. i) [I. 1] has prepared the reader or spectator:

Mais enfin, si je puis comme je l’espère, retrouver mes parents, nous n’aurons pas beaucoup de peine à nous le rendre favorable. (Valère à Élise, I. i)
[However, if I can find my parents, as I fully hope I shall, they will soon be favourable to us.] [I. 1] [eBook #6923]


Der Geizigue, Harpagon & La Flèche by August Wilhelm Iffland, 1810 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


In L’Avare, Molière does not use a deus ex machina. He simply introduces a second father figure who will allow the young couples to marry and will pay all costs. L’Avare‘s young couple are in fact very resourceful, but one cannot marry without money. Mariane (Dom Thomas) recoils at wishing Harpagon’s death, feelings that are reciprocated by Cléante (Harpagon).

Mon Dieu, Frosine, c’est une étrange affaire, lorsque pour être heureuse, il faut souhaiter ou attendre le trépas de quelqu’un, et la mort ne suit pas tous les projets que nous faisons. (Mariane à Frosine, III. iv)
[Oh, Frosine! What a strange state of things that, in order to be happy, we must look forward to the death of another. Yet death will not fall in with all the projects we make.] [III. 8] [eBook #6923]

Que veux-tu que j’y fasse ? Voilà où les jeunes gens sont réduits par la maudite avarice des pères ; et on s’étonne après cela que les fils souhaitent qu’ils meurent. (II. i)
[What would you have me do? It is to this that young men are reduced by the accursed avarice of their fathers; and people are astonished after that, that sons long for their death.] [II. 1] [eBook #6923]

When his father falls, accidentally, Cléante is worried:

Qu’est-ce, mon père, vous êtes-vous fait mal ? (III. ix)
[What’s the matter, father? Have you hurt yourself?] [III. 14] [eBook #6923]

Critic Northrop Frye states that “[t]he tendency of comedy is to include as many people as possible in its final society: the blocking characters are more often reconciled or converted than simply repudiated.”[3]

As for Harpagon, although he may he has been tyrannical, when Dom Thomas and the young couples leave to bring good news to Dom Thomas’ wife, Harpagon is off to see his dear cassette. His cassette, a casket, his vital to Harpagon.

Et moi, voir ma chère cassette. (I. vi)
[And I to see my dear casket.][1. 6] [eBook #6923]


I have already suggested that Molière uses doubling and fusion of functions.[4] Harpagon is a miser and will remain a miser ready to sacrifice his children. It is a sad reflection on humanity but perhaps less sad than the intervention of a deus ex machina. Dom Thomas d’Alburcy is a  major member of the play’s society, the intervention of a second father figure allows the happy ending the play demands. An anagnorisis may not be as dazzling a dénouement as the intervention of a deus ex machina, the prince in Tartuffe and a godlike figure in Dom Juan, but all’s well that ends well. 

Love to everyone



Commedia dell’arte


Sources and Resources

The Miser is a Wikisource eBook (Charles Heron Wall, translator)
The Miser is an Internet Archive publication EN
The Miser is a Project Gutenberg publication [eBook #6923] EN
The Miser, Henri Fielding is an eText EN
L’Avare is a publication FR
Molière21 is a research group
Le Salon littéraire FR
The Miser is a LibriVox text publication (YouTube)
Laughter, Henri Bergson is an Internet Archive publication EN

[1] L’Avare in Maurice Rat, Œuvres complètes de Molière (Paris : Éditions Gallimard, coll. La Pléiade, 1956), p. 968.
[2] Will  G. Moore, Molière, a New Criticism (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1968 [1949], pp. 69-70.
[3] Northrop Frye, Anatomy of Criticism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973 [1957]), p. 165.
[4] Micheline Bourbeau-Walker, « Le Misanthrope, ou la comédie éclatée, » in David Trott & Nicole Boursier, eds. L’Âge du théâtre en France (Edmonton, Alberta: Academic Printing and Publishing, 1988 ), 53 – 63. (papers from a conference held in Toronto, May 14 – 16, 1987) ISBN 0-920980-30-9 — PQ527.A33 1988

The Miser


L’Avare by Jean Degrassi, 1955 (

© Micheline Walker
1 December 2016

Prince Philip has died: 1921-2021


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Prince Philip (Mirror, UK)

My first gesture today is to bemoan the death of Prince Philip and to offer my sincere condolences to his wife, Queen Elizabeth, to all members of the Royal family, to their European relatives, to the leaders and citizens of the countries of the Commonwealth, and to all who admired the Queen’s husband, Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh. He was always supportive of the Queen.

May he rest in peace and may the Royal family be united in these sorrowful days.

My kindest regards to all of you. 💕

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip (Pinterest)

© Micheline Walker
9 April 2021

Sir Karl Jenkins’ “L’Homme armé”


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Christ Pantocrator, Sainte-Sophie, Istamboul (fr Wikipedia)

The Fall of Constantinople

Setting a Mass to a secular song, the 15th-century L’Homme armé, is an oddity. But the title of this Mass is otherwise intriguing. Sir Karl Jenkins (b. 1944), a Welsh composer, dedicated his Armed Man: a Mass for Peace to the victims of the Kosovo genocide, giving his Mass a “contemporary resonance.” (Early Music Muse.)

The genocidal wars that followed the dissolution of the Soviet Union reflect ethnic discrimination in Eastern Europe. Such discrimination is probably rooted in the very last Crusades, the fall of Constantinople.

On 29 May 1453, the Byzantine Empire fell to the Ottoman Empire. Greek scholars fled to Italy initiating or buttressing the Renaissance. Moreover, Ottoman Turks invaded neighbouring countries, creating Muslim communities. In 1529, they nearly reached Vienna.

By the 15th century, the expanding Ottoman Empire overpowered the Balkan Peninsula, but faced successful rebellion and resistance led by Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg. By the 17th and 18th centuries, a substantial number of Albanians converted to Islam, which offered them equal opportunities and advancement within the Ottoman Empire. Thereafter, Albanians attained significant positions and culturally contributed to the broader Muslim world.

(See Albanians, Wikipedia)

L’Homme armé

The composition of the secular L’Homme armé has been attributed to Johannes Regis (c. 1425 – c. 1496), but it appears that Antoine Busnois (c. 1430 – 6 November 1492) is the song’s composer. Sources differ. Both Regis and Busnois were younger members of the Burgundian School, younger than Guillaume Du Fay (5 August 1397 – 27 November 1474). However, all three composers lived in the 15th century and were active in or after 1453. Busnois, Regis, and Du Fay were members of the Burgundian School, whose chief purpose was the development of polyphony. Although the Greeks invented polyphony, “the term polyphony is usually used to refer to music of the late Middle Ages and Renaissance.” (See Polyphony, Wikipedia.)


The fall of Constantinople and the conquest by Ottoman Turks of several European countries, the future Balkans mainly, led to battles and bloodshed. So, it is less surprising that 15th-century composers set the Ordinary of the Mass, the Mass’ permanent elements, to L’Homme armé, its cantus firmus, or fixed melody. “Some have suggested that the ‘armed man’ represents St Michael the Archangel.” (See L’Homme armé, Wikipedia.)

As for compositions of L’Homme armé that followed the breakdown of the Soviet Union, they reflect distant conflicts. Karl Jenkins’ Armed Man: a Mass for Peace, composed in 1999, is a commemoration. One is also reminded of Benjamin Britten‘s War Requiem, an anti-war piece. 

Fifteenth-century composers who have set a Mass to L’Homme armé are Josquin des Prez, Matthaeus PipelarePierre de La RueCristóbal de MoralesGuillaume Du Fay, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Guillaume FauguesJohannes Regis, and Johannes Ockeghem. Most were members of the Burgundian School or the Franco-Flemish School.

One cannot forget L’Homme armé.



Sources and Resources

L’homme armé / The armed man: the remarkable life of a 15th century song and its contemporary resonance.
(Early Music Muse.)

L’homme armé doibt on doubter.
On a fait partout crier
Que chascun se viegne armer
D’un haubregon de fer.
L’homme armé doibt on doubter.

The armed man should be feared.
Everywhere it has been proclaimed
That each man shall arm himself
With a coat of iron mail.
The armed man should be feared.

(See L’Homme armé, Wikipedia.)


Love to everyone 💕

Sir Karl Jenkins conducts his Armed Man: a Mass for Peace
Renesansowa pieśń żołnierska Renaissance Soldier Song L’Homme armé (ballada na niej oparta)
L’homme armé in the Mellon Chansonnier, c. 1470 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

© Micheline Walker
6 April 2021

Guillaume Du Fay’s L’Homme armé


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L’homme armé in the Mellon Chansonnier, c. 1470

In the 15th century, musical compositions, both liturgical and secular, often blended several independent voices. Such compositions are labelled polyphonic. Polyphony is a musical texture blending independent voices as do Barbershop quartets.

Secular madrigals, songs in the mother (madre, Spanish) tongue, had been monophonic (one voice), but they were a form used in the development of polyphonic music. So was the Motet, liturgical music. Polyphony could at times blend more than the soprano, alto, tenor and bass (SATB), the four voices we are most familiar with. But more importantly, a Mass by Guillaume Du Fay combined the sacred and the secular. The Ordinary of the Mass was set to L’Homme armé (the armed man) a secular theme. A Mass’ permanent components constitute the Ordinary of the Mass.

Guillaume Du Fay (5 August 1397 – 27 November 1474), the most prominent composer of the 15th century, was associated with the Burgundian School. The Burgundian School was a close predecessor to the Franco-Flemish School. In the 15th century and during most of the 16th century, the Netherlands were the cultural hub of Europe. For instance, Adrian Williaert (c. 1490 – 7 December 1562), of the Franco-Flemish school, would be a teacher in Venice. He founded the Venetian School.

L’Homme armé (Wikipedia) was a very popular tune. “Over 40 settings of the Ordinary of the Mass using the tune L’Homme armé survive from the period between 1450 and the end of the 17th century.” (See L’Homme armé, Wikipedia.)

Du Fay set the Missa L’Homme armé to a cantus firmus “a pre-existing melody forming the basis of a polyphonic composition” (Wikipedia). However, the pre-existing melody was L’Homme armé, the armed man.

Composers still write sacred music. Examples are Benjamin Britten (22 November 1913 – 4 December 1976) and John Rutter (b. 1945). Earlier, Hector Berlioz (11 December 1803 – 8 March 1869) wrote his Grande Messe des morts or Requiem.

In fact, L’Homme armé is still used. Pieces on L’Homme armé are listed in its Wikipedia entry. British composer Peter Maxwell Davies composed “a parody mass Missa super L’Homme armé (1968, revised 1971).” Canadian pianist and composer Marc-André Hamelin (b. 1961) wrote Toccata onL’Homme Armé” “on commission by the Van Cliburn Foundation for the Fifteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. Every competitor was required to perform it in the preliminary stage of the competition.” (See L’Homme armé, Wikipedia.)

I should also mention rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar, with music by Andrew Lloyd-Webber (b. 1948) and lyrics by Tim Rice (b. 1944). The rock opera does not use L’Homme armé, but it is a theater musical based on a Christian theme.

One never forgets L’Homme armé.



Love to everyone 💕

L’Homme armé de Guillaume Du Fay
Marc-André Hamelin performs his Toccata on “L’Homme armé”
Du Fay (left), with Gilles Binchois in a c. 1440 Illuminated manuscript copy of Martin le Franc’s Le champion des dames[n 1] (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

© Micheline Walker
1st April 2021

Why hast Thou forsaken me?


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Jesus Christ Pantokrator
Agony in the Garden by El Greco

The seven sayings of Jesus on the cross

Ten years ago, I published a post on the Canonical hours and noted that literary critic Northrop Frye suggested that these words: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” expressed the very essence of the tragic mode. They expressed:

a sense of his exclusion, as a divine being from the society of the Trinity.

Northrop Frye [1]

Jesus was no longer God.

The seven sayings are:

The seven sayings, being “last words”, may provide a way to understand what was ultimately important to this man who was dying on the cross.

(See Sayings of Jesus on the cross, Wikipedia.)

They do. The sayings of Jesus on the cross epitomize the burden of incarnation. Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit and had to leave the Garden of Eden, but they would be redeemed. Not only was Jesus made flesh, but he died a cruel death: crucifixion.

The Eucharist, or Holy Communion, commemorates the Last Supper. It invites an anamnesis. The host, l’hostie, represents the body of Christ. « Le Christianisme (…) utilise le pain pour représenter le corps de Jésus-Christ ».

“[D]o this in remembrance of me.”
« Ensuite il prit du pain; et, après avoir rendu grâces, il le rompit, et le leur donna, en disant: Ceci est mon corps, qui est donné pour vous; faites ceci en mémoire de moi (Luc 22 : 19).

During the Last Supper, Jesus of Nazareth knew that he had been betrayed and that he would be arrested. He was alone when his agony began.

The Canonical Hours

As for the nine (originally seven) Canonical Hours, they constitute vigilance. At the Garden of Gethsemane, during his agony, Jesus’ disciples would not keep watch with Him. Jesus was abandoned (See Matthew 26: 36 – 46).

Now Cenobite Monks, Monks who live under an abbey, observe nine Hours. Vigil was added, which precedes Matins. Monks keep watch night and day. Jesus, the Redeemer was a man and vulnerable. Vigils are kept the day or evening before Feasts. They may include or be replaced by fasting.

The Canonical hours are:

It is my understanding that the evening song or, evensong, comprises the Nunc Dimittis, Simeon’s song of praise. It is a canticle. The Hours are mostly Psalms, but include Antiphons, Responsories and Canticles.

“Why hast Thou forsaken me?”

This saying is Matthew 27: 46 & Psalm 22:1, but in my French psautier, the relevant Psaume is numbered 21. In my Bible, however, the same Psalm is numbered 22 (21):

« Mon Dieu, mon Dieu, pourquoi m’abandonner ? »
Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?
[Why hast Thou forsaken me?]

Jesus was a Jew and he spoke Aramaic. Eli would be Elijah. These words were uttered when Jesus was dying on the cross. In the ninth hour he said: My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me? They are the fourth of seven sayings of Christ on the Cross (Les Sept Paroles du Christ).


On the cross, Jesus, God the Son, fully assumed his humanity, the incarnation. His disciples would not keep watch with him during his agony (Matthew 26: 36 – 46), and he was crucified (Psalm 22: [21]). All His sayings on the cross express the human condition, but none so powerfully as: “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” In « L’Isolement », Alphonse de Lamartine wrote: « Un seul être vous manque, et tout est dépeuplé » (Only one being is missing, and all is a wasteland). Lamartine borrowed this line from Nicolas-Germain Léonard (1844 – 1893). On the death of his daughter, Lamartine also wrote Gethsémani ou La Mort de Julia: « C’était le seul anneau de ma chaîne brisée » (She was the only link in my broken chain). Why hast Thou… Père, père

I learned liturgy and liturgical music as a student of musicology and the theory of music. Jesus’ sayings on the cross have been set to music by several composers (see Sayings of Jesus on the cross, Wikipedia). To this body of music, Théodore Dubois (1837 – 1924) contributed: Les Sept Paroles du Christ, an Oratorio.


[1] Northrop Frye, Anatomy of Criticism, (Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 1973 [1957]), p. 36.


Love to everyone 💕

Les Sept Paroles du Christ de Théodore Dubois interprété par l’Ensemble vocal Abbaye de la Cambre
Bronzino‘s depiction of the crucifixion with three nails, no ropes, and an hypopodium standing support, c. 1545. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

© Micheline Walker
30 March 2021

La Chanson du camionneur, Fred Pellerin


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Fred Pellerin interprète « La Chanson du camionneur »

Fred Pellerin is Nicolas Pellerin‘s brother (see below). Fred is a conteur, but he is also a singer and a musician.

In this song, Fred Pellerin is a truck driver, un camionneur, who talks to his wife who wants to remodel the kitchen of their home. She doesn’t like her kitchen’s melamine counter. I suppose she wants something real, which could be wood. Beautiful wood counters are available in Quebec.

We suspect that our camionneur, truck driver, does not have the means to refurbish his house. He sleeps in his truck. This could be an older Quebec, but truck drivers are everywhere.

Before la Révolution tranquille, the citizens of Quebec were poorer. However, Quebec has powerful syndicates. They rule. Under premier Maurice Le Noblet Duplessis, the days of la grande noirceur, (the Great Darkness), workers were not allowed to strike. I believe I have already discussed the asbestos strike of 1949. It was a violent prelude to the Révolution Tranquille (The Quiet Revolution).

Everything changed after 1960. Maurice Duplessis died and Jean Lesage, a Liberal, became premier of Quebec. When I returned to Quebec in 2002, the province was no longer the same. Most changes reflected a wish to be maîtres chez soi (masters in our own house). Quebec did not sign the Constitution of 1982.


More and more Canadians are being vaccinated, but those who would not wear a mask do not want to be vaccinated. Some have been infected and variants have appeared. The police is protecting locations where the government is vaccinating people. The police is well trained. Persons living in my building wear a mask. Several are medical doctors.

I am still alone and I feel somewhat fragile. For instance, I cannot handle discussing the Royals. I have therefore edited my comments. One cannot tell what is going on. It’s too complicated. All I can say is that Prince Harry loved the military. He has suffered a loss.



Love to everyone 💕

Nicolas Pellerin et les Grands Hurleurs interprètent « La Lurette en Colère »

© Micheline Walker
27 March 2021

Didier Barbelivien chante “Jean de France”



Didier Barbevilien chante « Jean de France »

This song, « Jean de France », is very touching. For several hundred years, France was a monarchy. Didier Barbevilien sings that we do not recover from our childhood. No one does. « Nul ne guérit de son enfance. »

Le Salon du duc d’Orléans par Louis Carrogis dit Carmontelle (

© Micheline Walker
25 March 2021

Les Frères ennemis, again and again


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Louis-Alphonse de Bourbon, Duc d’Anjou

I doubt very much that France would ever revert to a Monarchy. But if it did, Louis-Alphonse de Bourbon would be a pretender to the throne. He belongs to the House of Bourbon.

Louis XIV, a Bourbon king, had a brother, Philippe. Philippe or Monsieur frère unique du Roi, was Duke of Anjou from birth. In 1660, when his uncle Gaston d’Orléans died without issue, Philippe became Duke of Orleans. The House of Orléans is a cadet branch to the House of Bourbon.

Philippe I, Duke of Orleans, Louis XIV’s brother, was a fils de France (son of France) and, from birth, he was second in the line of succession. He was his Royal Highness, son altesse sérénissine. Jean de France, Comte de Paris is not a brother to Louis-Alphonse de Bourbon, but he is a rightful pretender to the throne of France. The last king of the French was Louis-Philippe 1er, 1830-1848 (House of Orléans).

Jean de France, Comte de Paris (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

Prince Harry

Prince Harry is Prince Charles’ son and Prince William’s brother. He is sixth in the line of succession to the throne of England, which is an accident of birth and privilege. Prince William was the firstborn, primogeniture. Prince Harry served in the British Military and founded the Invictus Games. He was ‘spotted’ by terrorists and he is a target.

The crisis in Britain’s royal family saddens me, so I hope it will soon end. Princess Diana loved both her sons, but inequality can lead to enmity.

In literature, frères ennemis is a topic. One is reminded me of Jean Racine‘s La Thébaïde ou Les Frères ennemis (1664), not to mention Cain and Abel.

They are not brothers, but both Alphonse de Bourbon and Jean de France claim they are heirs to the throne of France. Rivalry… However, Jean de France is a descendant of the last roi des Francais, the above-mentioned Louis-Philippe Ier, of the Maison d’Orléans.

I am pleased that my excellent mother could and did treat her children as equals. I then became a loving husband’s “princesse.”

Sir Elton John sings “Candle in the Wind”
Prince Harry of the House of Windsor

© Micheline Walker
24 March 2021

The Human Condition in the Days of Covid-19


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Illustration de J.-J. Grandville (1803-1847)
fable Jean de La Fontaine : Les deux rats, le renard et l’oeuf (
End Book IX : Address to Madame de La Sablière ; The two rats, fox and egg (

Once again, I am writing mostly unprepared, but happy to have been vaccinated the day after I dialled the correct telephone number. The better approach is to make an appointment online. Telephone lines are busy. In other words, I was lucky.

I have not fully recovered. On Saturday, I ran a low grade fever, and I felt a little dizzy and exhausted. On Sunday, I was tired. I remain tired and my lungs hurt. However, being infected with Covid-19 is a greater evil than the side effects of the vaccine.

AstraZeneca was used. I was told that the source was safe. A poor source may have slowed down the Vaccination Campaign in some European countries, but it is not too late.

If one reads The Hare and Tortoise, Le Lièvre et la Tortue (VI, 10), one may think that the “cautious” countries wasted precious time. But there is a little godliness in human beings. La Fontaine wanted to illustrate that animals had a soul, not a human soul, but a soul. His two rats find a way of carrying their egg to safety. Animals have all the wit they need to stay alive. And, by and large, so do human beings.

The human condition is at times merciless. So, it could be that in the humbling days of Covid-19, one chooses the appropriate, i. e. reassuring, fable. Ingenuity could correct a delayed start.

Sources and Resources

Pierre Jules Stahl (éditeur) et Jean-Jacques Grandville, Vie privée et publique des animaux is [EBook #57075]
J.-J. Grandville, Les Métamorphoses du jour is an Internet Archive publication


Love to everyone 💕

Image publicitaire, Ets Bourcheix & fils, nouveautés, draperie, à Clermont-Ferrand

© Micheline Walker
21 Mars 2021
revised 22 March 2021

Covid-19: Vaccination in Quebec


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I apologize for the delay.

An Incident

It all started when my telephone rang in the middle of the night. Someone was at the main door to the building asking me to unlock the door. He said he was delivering groceries. I let him in. It then occurred to me that he could be an intruder and that he could harm one of my neighbours. If so, it would be my fault. I dialed 9-1-1. Two police officers, a man, and a woman came to my door. I told them that I had foolishly let someone into the building and asked them to check the corridors. They didn’t check the corridors. I also told them that persons did ring the door to my apartment occasionally and then disappeared. But matters were different. This time, I had let a person enter the building.

They asked several questions, reassured me, and left. The building was quiet. The next morning, I realized that one of my neighbours had played a joke on me. Who else would know that my groceries are delivered and by whom? Later in the day, I phoned the police and spoke with a person who knew about this incident. I said that, in my opinion, a neighbour had played a joke on me. The gentleman wanted to know how I felt. I was fine. My neighbours were not the target, I was the target.

I have since wondered whether this incident is related to Covid-19. I have been inside my apartment, alone, for a year. However, someone delivers groceries once a week.

The Covid-19 Vaccine

I did leave the apartment two days ago. On Tuesday I received a letter from the government informing me personally that the vaccination programme had begun and that all I had to do was telephone the number I was given or go online to make an appointment. I dialed the telephone number and was vaccinated the following day. Covid-19 is so aggressive that all Canadians will be vaccinated before June 24, the first injection, if AstraZeneca is used. That goal is realistic for Quebec. The team is working so efficiently that several hundred persons are vaccinated in a matter of hours. The government hired a small army.

After the injection, one sits for 15 minutes and, if all goes well, one disinfects one’s hands and goes home. A gentleman called a cab for me. He made me sit comfortably while I waited and he helped me get into the cab safely.

The AstraZeneca vaccine was used. My mouth was very dry after the injection, but there were bottles of water. I was given water. I was not otherwise affected.

Long Covid

The Washington Post reports that many victims of Covid-19 who have been cured are not able to return to a normal life. I suspected this would happen. I caught the H1N1 virus in early February 1976. It triggered Myalgic Encephalomyelitis which did not relent, except for very brief periods, for forty-four years. ME ended when Covid-19 began. Long-Covid patients are vaccinated and it is reported that many patients start feeling better. Do not look upon them as malingerers.

Some long-haul covid-19 patients say their symptoms are subsiding after getting vaccines – The Washington Post

Would that awareness of complications had been present in 1976! I could handle a normal workload by going to bed early and living cautiously. But my workload grew to include too many areas of literature, and the creation of language lab components. I fell to exhaustion and was not replaced, which shouldn’t have happened. I was then maneuvered into selling my house and leaving Nova Scotia. Two years later, I was fooled into accepting an arrangement that ended my tenure without my realizing it. I still ache.


Let’s just say that Covid-19 has been a curse, but that the government vaccination programme is very rapid. I have not experienced adverse effects. As for my neighbours, I sent management a letter they will never forget.

Love to everyone 💕

Leonard Bernstein plays George Gershwin
La Belle aux moineaux, illustration (George Barbier (illustrator) – Wikipedia)

© Micheline Walker
19 March 2021

Le Vent du Nord: Lettre à Durham


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Le Vent du Nord‘s Lettre à Durham with Julie Fowlis, in Glasgow

Le Vent du Nord‘s Lettre à Durham

Le Grand Dérangement: the Expulsion of Acadians

A discussion of the concept of anamnesis could take us to Plato but it also leads to Canada and, more precisely, to both provinces of New France: Acadie and the current Quebec.

In an earlier article, October 1837, I wrote that the deportation (1755) was cruel. It deprived 11,500 Acadians of their home, and exiles were put pêle-mêle aboard ships that sailed in different directions, including England and France. Families were divided. “Approximately one-third perished from disease and drowning.″ (See Acadians, Wikipedia.) Some sailed down Britain’s Thirteen Colonies and walked from Georgia to Louisiana. They are the Cajuns of Louisiana. Some exiles returned to Acadie, but not to their farms.

Antonine Maillet’s Pélagie-la-Charrette

Errance et Résistance, an article, is my reading of Antonine Maillet‘s Pélagie-la-Charrette (1979). The novel is an anamnèse. Pélagie is a deported Acadian walking back to Acadie with other deportees using a charrette, a cart. When the group reaches Acadie, they exclaim: la terre rouge, a reference to the biblical mer Rouge, the Red Sea. The soil is rouge, which may result from the huge tides of the Bay of Fundy (from fendu, split). Pélagie-la-Charrette earned Antonine Maillet the Prix Goncourt 1979 (France).

The Bay of Fundy (fendu)
The Bay of Fundy (fendu) between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and inside Nova Scotia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lord Durham’s Report

In 1838, George Lambton, 1st Earl of Durham was sent to the two Canadas to investigate the Rebellions of 1837-1838. In his report, he depicted French Canadians as culturally inferior to English Canadians. Although it was not the grand dérangement, Lord Durham’s Report was humiliating. French-speaking Canadians did not have a history and lacked a literature. French Canadians quickly built a literary homeland: la Patrie littéraire, which was an anamnesis.

Comme bien des Britanniques de l’époque, Lord Durham est convaincu que les valeurs et les politiques anglaises sont supérieures à celles des autres nations et qu’en les appliquant, une société est vouée à la prospérité. À l’opposé, il considère les Canadiens francophones comme étant un peuple sans histoire et sans littérature. [As did many Britons in his time, Lord Durham believed English values and policies were superior to those of other nations and that a society putting these into practice was bound to prosper. Contrarily, he looked upon francophone Canadians as a people without a history and without a literature.]   

Le Rapport Durham | Alloprof

These were inebriating days for Britain’s Empire. What does the Sun Never Sets On The British Empire Mean? – WorldAtlas. In his Report, Lord Durham recommended that the two Canadas be united, which led to the Act of Union of 1841. Lord Durham’s Report was humiliating. It was hoped that the Act of Union would lead to an assimilation of French-speaking Canadians. You will hear the words: à genoux, on their knees and cicatrices (scars). However, after the two Canadas were united, Robert Baldwin (1804-1858) and Sir Louis-Hyppolite LaFontaine (1807-1864) built a government for a bilingual Canada with a responsible government. Then came Confederation (1867). Its precedent was Durham’s Report, not the Canada envisaged by Baldwin and LaFontaine.

Matters have changed. The Patrie littéraire, an anamnesis, was successful. However, during the 1960s, terrorists, the Front de libération du Québec (the FLQ) killed and maimed, but they ceased to be active after the October Crisis of 1970. Pierre Vallières (1938-1998) published Les Nègres blancs d’Amérique (The White Niggers of America) in 1968, but he had killed as a member of the FLQ. During the 1960s the Felquistes (FLQ) put bombs in mailboxes and other locations. Vallières converted. It was a troubled decade.

There are ups and downs, les hauts et les bas, but we live peacefully.


Sources and Resources
Le Vent du Nord – Home

Love to everyone 💕
I had to modify this article. I have been suffering from mental fatigue and my memory fails me.

© Micheline Walker
11 March 2021