FR: dont l'association devait plus tard constituer le cénacle

latinandfrench

New Member
English
Hi,

I have started reading “Scenes de la vie de boheme” by Henri Murger. To be honest, it’s probably too advanced for my rusty French but I am determined to persevere!

I do have one question from the first paragraph; it makes no real difference to the overall meaning but I’d like to know the answer.

The passage is:

"Voici comment le hasard...mit un jour en contact les individus dont l'association fraternelle devait plus tard constituer le cenacle..."

which I would, broadly, translate as:

"This is how chance ... brought into contact the individuals whose fraternal association would later constitute the cenacle...”

However, literally, doesn’t “devait plus tard” mean “had to later” (devait being imperfect of devoir)? This suggests some obligation and doesn’t seem to sit correctly in a translation.

I’d be grateful if somebody could explain it to me.

Thanks in advance.
 
  • Maître Capello

    Mod et ratures
    French – Switzerland
    Devait is indeed the imperfect of devoir. However, devoir has many possible meanings. "Had to" is certainly one of them, but it doesn't fit here. Here the meaning of the original French is:

    dont l'association fraternelle devait plus tard constituer = whose fraternal association would later turn out to constitute / would eventually constitute…​

    which is ever so slightly different from the conditional used as future in the past:

    dont l'association fraternelle constituerait plus tard le cénacle = whose fraternal association would later constitute the cenacle​
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top