commentaires plus ou moins gracieux

Unabridged

New Member
English
I’m reading a novel in which a top civil servant checks into a provincial hotel – there is a storm, he’s soaked to the skin and the river is about to break its banks. He decides to lie about what he does for a living:

Mieux valait se limiter à un incognito qui lui éviterait des commentaires plus ou moins gracieux sur la nécessité de faire construire des digues, l’incurie du gouvernement ou le difficile apostolat des fonctionnaires en mission. La paix était, dans son malheur, la chose qu’il désirait le plus.

I’m struggling to pin down the meaning of ‘gracieux ‘here: comments made more or less unprompted (ie sense of being given for free, whether the listener wants them or not) or more or less well-meant/well intentioned (ie helpful or constructive in the main though tedious to the listener who didn’t ask for them) or are the comments made with varying degrees of politeness (some people get hot under the collar, some make pointed remarks)? Or something else? I’d welcome people’s thoughts on what seems most likely in the context.
 
  • Uncle Bob

    Senior Member
    British English
    Given the second in the list ("l'incurie du gouvenement") I suggest it means "à titre gracieux", i.e. "gratuitous" (uncalled for).
     
    Last edited:

    archijacq

    Senior Member
    french France
    I’m reading a novel in which a top civil servant checks into a provincial hotel – there is a storm, he’s soaked to the skin and the river is about to break its banks. He decides to lie about what he does for a living:

    Mieux valait se limiter à un incognito qui lui éviterait des commentaires plus ou moins gracieux sur la nécessité de faire construire des digues, l’incurie du gouvernement ou le difficile apostolat des fonctionnaires en mission. La paix était, dans son malheur, la chose qu’il désirait le plus.

    I’m struggling to pin down the meaning of ‘gracieux ‘here: comments made more or less unprompted (ie sense of being given for free, whether the listener wants them or not) or more or less well-meant/well intentioned (ie helpful or constructive in the main though tedious to the listener who didn’t ask for them) or are the comments made with varying degrees of politeness :tick: (some people get hot under the collar, some make pointed remarks)? Or something else? I’d welcome people’s thoughts on what seems most likely in the context.
    synonyme de "aimable"
     
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