Ne veut pas qui veut

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by PaulinNYC, Aug 9, 2008.

  1. PaulinNYC New Member

    English
    Hello,

    I was reading the Mémoires of André Maurois this morning, and came across what is surely a simple idiomatic phrase, yet one whose meaning eludes me. A search of my Robert proved fruitless.

    The phrase is in bold below:

    "On admire qu'elle les entreprît; ce qui est admirable, c'est qu'elle les achevât...Ne veut pas qui veut. Simone pouvait vouloir."

    Many thanks for any clarification.

    --Paul
     
  2. livy83

    livy83 Senior Member

    Amherst / Paris
    France, French
    Could you tell us what the narrator is talking about? What did she do?
     
  3. PaulinNYC New Member

    English
    Maurois is speaking of a precocious girl (the daughter of a friend of Proust) who was adept at writing fiction at a young age.
     
  4. wildan1

    wildan1 Moderando ma non troppo

    Are you sure it is not " ne peut pas qui veut " ?

    It means there is a difference between saying you want to do something and showing you can do it--"easier said than done."
     
  5. broglet

    broglet Senior Member

    London
    English - England
    Does the 'elle' refer to Simone?
     
  6. PaulinNYC New Member

    English
    The phrase definitely reads "ne veut pas qui veut," though it's always possible there is a typo and the first "veut" should be "peut." Your suggestion certainly makes sense in the context of the paragraph.

    Yes, the "elle" refers to Simone.
     

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