la vie le theatre le feev o'clock le smoking

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kahroba

Senior Member
Persian
Dear friends
Assuming that "feeve o'clock" is a French pronuciation of "five o'clock", could you please decipher the following underlined phrase, taken from "The Camera Eye (41)" in "1919" by John Dos Passos:
Time: 1919
Location: a double-decker train in Paris banlieue
(---) represents spaces in the original context
(there's no punctuation in Camera Eyes)
I sat on the impériale of the third class car with the daughter of the Libertaire (that's Patrick Henry ours after all give me or death) a fine girl her father she said never let her go out alone never let her see any young men it was like being in a convent she wanted liberty fraternity equality and a young man to take her out... and she wanted l'Amérique la vie le theatre le feev o'clock le smoking le foxtrot --- she was a nice girl
The subject between brackets has already been discussed in a thread titled "Patrick Henry ours".
I realize she wanted freedom: she loved America, she loved life, she wanted to live, she wanted to go to theatre, to smoke, to dance but what's "five o'clock" doing there?
 
  • Cathy Rose

    Senior Member
    United States English
    I think she wants American life as it's depicted in American cinema, not real American life. The five o'clock reference may be to cocktail hour, where, in a 1940s or 50s mvoie ~ say Humphrey Bogart or William Holden ~, the characters would have a cigarette and a martini. Someone else may have a different opinion. That's just a guess.
     

    FAC13

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    Yes, I agree with that Cathy Rose - I picture a girl who dreams of leaving work and going out with a nice young man for a drink, a smoke etc, after finishing work. Or a not-so-nice man perhaps!
     

    rainbow84uk

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    I agree... Although le smoking doesn't necessarily have be about cigarettes - I think it means dinner jacket or tuxedo in French. Fits in with the reference to wanting a life as seen in old American movies...
     

    kahroba

    Senior Member
    Persian
    I agree... Although le smoking doesn't necessarily have be about cigarettes - I think it means dinner jacket or tuxedo in French. Fits in with the reference to wanting a life as seen in old American movies...
    Please note she desires all things she has been deined such as freedom of going out with men, smoking cigarettes, going to theatres and dance parties etc. I don't think men's dinner suits [tuxedos or smokings] would be such an issue for her.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    l'Amérique - America, the American way of life?
    la vie - life, a life of here own, free from traditional social expectations?
    le theatre - the theatre?
    le feev o'clock - the five o'clock, references from Google suggest this is afternoon tea.
    le smoking - young ladies in Europe did not smoke back then - did they? It strikes me as a twenties thing.
    le foxtrot - dancing, of course, with the foxtrot being highly decadent, no doubt - originating in 1914 or so.

    From Proust's English: Daniel Karlin, quoted HERE:
    Their vocabulary eschewed anything that smacked of trade or technology (too dull), but made free with the modish manners and preoccupations of upper-class English society. Their success shows how deeply permeated by things English was the world of the Faubourg Saint-Germain. Inhabited by les fashionables, it gladly embraced the rituals (le five o’clock, les garden-parties, les clubs) of the high life for which the standard was set by Edward VII, the former Prince of Walles, and chief of the English Royalties.
     
    Last edited:

    JeanDeSponde

    Senior Member
    France, Français
    I agree... Although le smoking doesn't necessarily have be about cigarettes - I think it means dinner jacket or tuxedo:thumbsup: in French. Fits in with the reference to wanting a life as seen in old American movies...
    Exactly - a tuxedo, 100% sure.

    La vie is (given the context) high life, pleasure-seeking (see Panj's quote from Proust).
     
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