Après moi, le déluge

geve

Senior Member
France, French
Hello, forum :)

"Après moi, le déluge" is a set phrase used to denigrate the attitude of someone who acts irresponsibly, without worrying on the consequences that his/her acts could have. Something like: "I don't care what happens next, I'll be gone", "The world could collapse after I'm gone, no big deal".

I have actually just discovered :eek: that the French sentence is attributed to Louis XV or Madame de Pompadour - More details here.
However what I'm interested in here is not to find the best translation for the historical quote, but to know if there's a set phrase in English to express the same idea, used in the situation I described.

Thanks!
 
  • Cath.S.

    Senior Member
    français de France
    a) On the one hand, if we understand After me the deluge will come, the saying seems to imply, as an assertive affirmation: “After my reign, the nation will be plunged into chaos and destruction.”
    Just to note that I think that's the way it was meant, and that it had some prophetic quality about it, even though today people who use it usually mean "I don't give a damn about what happens when I'm gone".
     

    geve

    Senior Member
    France, French
    Just to note that I think that's the way it was meant, and that it had some prophetic quality about it, even though today people who use it usually mean "I don't give a damn about what happens when I'm gone".
    Thank you for pointing that out, Egueule. :)

    But just to be clear - what I'm looking for here is a common phrase that would be said when someone seems to not care about the consequences of their acts.
    Maybe it will be clearer with an example: Mr Filthy goes for a trip in the mountains and leaves all his garbage, empty cans and cigarette butts behind, disseminated amongst the lovely pine trees and frolicking chamois, because, well, why would he give a damn? He won't be there to see the damage; besides, doesn't everybody do that anyway?
    Someone witnessing this could say that "Après moi le déluge" is Mr Filthy's motto.
     

    Amityville

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I agree with Kelly. A sillier example: we used to say it at school when first outside at hometime - though not every day, I grant you, and the French Revolution was on the history syllabus. There may be some other phrase in English but it will be a pale imitation, us not having had a revolution.
     

    geve

    Senior Member
    France, French
    Vraiment ? La même phrase, en français ? Et ce serait compris par tout le monde ? C'est trop facile pour être vrai !!

    Merci bien, Kelly et Amity :)
     

    wildan1

    Moderando ma non troppo (French-English, CC Mod)
    Vraiment ? La même phrase, en français ? Et ce serait compris par tout le monde ? C'est trop facile pour être vrai !!
    Non, pas compris par tout le monde. Kelly l'a bien expliqué - on pourrait le citer en français auprès d'un public "high readership." Style New York Times, etc. Pour les autres il faudrait chercher une tournure en anglais... ce qui ne me paraît pas évident !
     
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    wildan1

    Moderando ma non troppo (French-English, CC Mod)
    Or: Come what may

    or: He always leaves a wake of disaster behind himself

    (ce ne sont pas des citations, mais des phrases appropriées dans certaines situations qui pourraient évoquer la fameuse citation en français )
     

    geve

    Senior Member
    France, French
    Thank you for the fresh suggestions! :)

    It seems to me that "damn the consequences" would fit better in the context I gave as an example in my post #3... non ?
     

    catay

    Senior Member
    Canada anglais
    En effet, on emploie la version française de la phrase en anglais - il y en a pas mal d'examples comme celle-ci dans les articles déstinées à (euh... a high-level readership) :
    Moi aussi, je l'ai appris en francais.
     

    KevR

    New Member
    Britain. English.
    How about, a "devil may care" attitude?

    That's what I understand by it, as a native English speaker...
     

    geve

    Senior Member
    France, French
    Interesting new ideas, thanks!

    In French we could also call it une attitude je-m'en-foutiste (derived from je m'en fous - I don't care). Also works as a noun: Je-m'en-foutisme.
     
    "Devil may care attitude" and most of those others are, to my mind, a bit weak. This comment presaged the french revolution! I think that there is no English phrase that says this as well (excepting the translation).

    Additionally - it appears to be the motto of one Mr. George W Bush.

    (And if you live on a small pacific island - the deluge is literal)
     

    Moon Palace

    Senior Member
    French
    Would it be too colloquial to say
    'to hell with the consequences'?

    And could we say 'aftereffect' instead of 'consequences'?
     

    Kelly B

    Senior Member
    USA English
    That's quite similar to se16teddy's suggestion in post #9, and those are my favorites so far. :thumbsup:

    Aftereffects seems more random to me - something that happens after a natural event like a tornado, maybe, rather than man-made messes.
     

    not_using_my_real_name

    Senior Member
    French - France
    'To hell with the consequences' means the consequences could hurt anybody, me included
    eg, I'll climb up the Everest unprepared and drunk, to hell with the consequences...

    'Après moi, le déluge' is not applicable if I'll climb up the Everest unprepared and drunk.

    The subtly aggressive selfishness of "après moi le déluge" induces there may very well be bad consequences, but not for me, and I don't care for the rest.
    The deluge will only start after my lifetime.
    Granted, it may well be a disaster for whoever faces it, but I don't have time for that consideration...

    what about:
    "('I got my way / I'll do whatever I'm doing), let someone else deal with the consequences"

    or
    let others sort it out (maybe that's BE?)

    Is it idiomatic to say "if I'm OK, you're OK" in that intention ?
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    I'm OK, you're OK is certainly wrong, it means "Deep down, we are both decent people... Jesus loves you... Be forgiving to yourself..."

    Among the standard British expressions for "Après moi, le déluge" are I'm OK Jack / Blow you Jack, I'm OK / Haul up the ladder Jack, I'm on board (Royal Navy expression).

    (Somebody once noticed that la déluge is an anagram of De Gaulle. Pity it's actually le déluge...)
     

    not_using_my_real_name

    Senior Member
    French - France
    Thanks a lot, Keith Bradford, for your 3 solutions: no dictionary provides these expressions, and foreigners can't hope to guess any of them either.

    Can native speakers tell us whether "I'm OK Jack / Blow you Jack, I'm OK" are standard in AE too, please ?

    I'm OK, you're OK is certainly wrong
    I guess "IF I'm OK, you're OK" no standard English either, right? I heard it only in the Netherlands, but always liked its subtle, selfish aggressiveness
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    ...I guess "IF I'm OK, you're OK" no standard English either, right? I heard it only in the Netherlands, but always liked its subtle, selfish aggressiveness
    "Subtle selfish aggressiveness" only if you haven't read the original book of that title by Thomas A. Harris MD, one of the best selling self-help books ever published. It is a practical guide to Transactional Analysis, but much misunderstood (perhaps deliberately) by proponents of original sin and fundamentalist religion who are not OK and don't want anyone else to be.

    I repeat, I'm OK, you're OK means "Deep down, we are both decent people... Be forgiving to yourself..."
     

    The Prof

    Senior Member
    Hello, forum :)

    "Après moi, le déluge" is a set phrase used to denigrate the attitude of someone who acts irresponsibly, without worrying on the consequences that his/her acts could have. Something like: "I don't care what happens next, I'll be gone", "The world could collapse after I'm gone, no big deal".

    ... if there's a set phrase in English to express the same idea, used in the situation I described.

    Thanks!
    Now that we've established that there isn´t one set phrase for this that is used by all English speakers, it is probably worth considering a few more general options. For example, when the consequences of things like climate change are discussed, a very common reaction is for people to shrug their shoulders and say one of the following, or something similar
    :
    -Well, it won't affect me / us!
    -Well, at least I / we won't be around to see it!
    -I don't think we need to worry about that!

    In other words, we say very similar things to what was suggested in the original post. :)
     
    Now that we've established that there isn´t one set phrase for this that is used by all English speakers, ...
    This is precisely why we use words/phrases such as this. The meaning is not in the denotation, rather it is in the associated connotations surrounding it.

    Take the word "hip" (as in "cool"). Could any simple definition really capture the full flavor of the word - which always remains a to a large degree personal?
     

    Anglo1

    Member
    English
    "X always leaves a trail of destruction" i.e unwashed crockery, dirty clothing and just a general lack of organisation (usually used by parents for their untidy children) OR X makes things difficult for everyone else by creating awkward situations that other people have to deal with.

    I don't think I've ever heard it used by someone to describe themselves, though.
     
    However the rest of the post allows one to come to a more joyous interpretation. Rather than the nihilistic 'let it all go to the dogs', we are invited to rise above the petty 'getting and spending' attitude of the masses and see life for the play that Shakespeare said it was.

    So it's not a morose 'who cares' but an enlightened 'who cares, it's only a big cloud of hydrogen atoms that were rearranged five billion years ago, and as Democritus so presciently surmised will 'flow' into a new arrangement long after there's anyone left to care.'
     

    Ratskiwatski

    New Member
    American English, français
    To complete the thread for future users, an alternative to the above might incorporate the expression to do something "come hell or high water." C'est a dire, de faire quelque chose "que vienne l'enfer ou le déluge." L'implication est qu'on met tellement d'importance sur l'accomplissement de sa tâche (ou son plaisir) qu'on y arrivera quoi qu'il arrive, y inclus les pires empechements.
    I recognize that the element of indifference is differently directed in English, however, a sentence can be built around it that conveys a contempt for the future.
     

    foreverknight

    New Member
    English - England
    "Après moi, le déluge" is attributed to Louis XIV. "Après NOUS, le déluge" to Madame Pompadour and is surely a restating of the original to mean herself and Louis XV. The original expressed Louis XIV's belief that the world would decline without him as supreme leader so I would guess it's an extreme version of every parent's "Once I'm gone, you'll be sorry" or every jilted lover's "You're nothing without me".
     

    guillaumedemanzac

    Senior Member
    English - Southern England Home Counties
    "Apres moi, le deluge!" is well-known enough (by Kelly's 'higher readership') to be written in English with no accents and no translation.
    [...]
     
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    guillaumedemanzac

    Senior Member
    English - Southern England Home Counties
    Agree with #42.
    After me, the Flood. (biblical reference).
    After me, Catastrophe comes calling.
    After me, it will be a total disaster.
    After me, Chaos and Disruption.
     

    Stone Mason

    New Member
    English - English
    A common English phrase with the same intent, ie: "let's enjoy life now, who cares what happens when we're gone" is "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may die."
     

    not_using_my_real_name

    Senior Member
    French - France
    "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" (Admiral Farragut, USN, _ or was it Admiral Dewey?) means "Screw the risks, I'm going all out!" (daring, boldness, even rashness). I agree with foreverknight: "Après moi, le deluge." is more a gloomy prediction: "Once I'm no longer here to take care of things, everything's going to go to hell in a handbasket.", rather than "I don't give a shit what happens afterwards, I'm gonna do as I damn well please." (selfishness, egocentricity).
    I'm French myself but didn't know the initial intention of a gloomy prediction: "Once I'm no longer here to take care of things, everything's going to go to hell in a handbasket."

    Inversely, I have only heard the French use the phrase to mean "I'll do as I damn please, let someone else deal with whatever the consequences"
    Maybe the meaning has drifted in France but was kept intact in the UK...
     

    wildan1

    Moderando ma non troppo (French-English, CC Mod)
    Ten years later! I guess we are still searching. Another try from me:

    Who cares? -- Not my problem. That isn't really a set phrase but I believe it renders the idea in a way English-speakers readily understand.

    (Damn the torpedoes is not the same, because the potential loss or punishment will also befall the person saying it.)
     

    atro

    New Member
    New Zealand, English
    I have heard it translated as "WITHOUT me, the deluge" and I think this captures the original nuance more accurately, and faithfully to the context, while remaining concise.

    It's (I think) a salutary reminder of the perils of translating as if one were a machine.
     

    Jimbob_Disco

    Senior Member
    British English
    Vraiment ? La même phrase, en français ? Et ce serait compris par tout le monde ? C'est trop facile pour être vrai !!

    Merci bien, Kelly et Amity :)
    Non, c’est pas compris par tout le monde! C’était trop facile pour être vrai! En anglais, on peut dire ‘so what’.
     

    eno2

    Senior Member
    Dutch-Flemish
    I have heard it translated as "WITHOUT me, the deluge" and I think this captures the original nuance more accurately, and faithfully to the context, while remaining concise.

    It's (I think) a salutary reminder of the perils of translating as if one were a machine.
    No.
    Yes, I would agree that "Damn the consequences!" is so far the best solution.
    No
    Non, c’est pas compris par tout le monde! C’était trop facile pour être vrai! En anglais, on peut dire ‘so what’.
    No

    Think of it what you want, the following explanation unites both, but 'après moi ' is clearly not 'après je que j'ai fait ':

    Après moi le déluge
    Peu m'importe ce qu'il va se passer (après ce que j'ai fait / après ma mort), même si c'est une catastrophe
    Après moi le déluge – Expressio par Reverso

    Because the deluge can't hurt you if you're not there anymore.
     
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