soleil de limaille

Riverby

Senior Member
NZ English
Entre deux nuages, un bref instant, un soleil de limaille a tout remis à neuf.- Olivier Adam: A l'abri de rien (Excerpt)
Between two clouds, for a brief moment, a __ sun appeared freshly minted.
What is the meaning of the bold-face text? The usual translation of limaille seems to be iron filings. This seems a very strange metaphor to describe the sun. I remember iron filings from school as a dull black powder.
 
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  • Riverby

    Senior Member
    NZ English
    A small fragment of light, like a shiny chip of metal works - thanks. But grey sun? Perhaps in the north of France, where the story is set? Here in the South Pacific, the sun's bright when there's no cloud.
     

    The Prof

    Senior Member
    I think I can picture the image that is intended, but translating it with only one adjective is beyond me!

    I am toying with the idea of a "shimmering sun", in an attempt to portray the idea of flickering, wavering, such as you get when light catches or reflects on iron filings. In my mind, the iron filings are still quite new and shiny, unlike the ones you remember from school!

    However, this type of literature is not my forté, so please do wait for other responses too. :)
     

    Riverby

    Senior Member
    NZ English
    Thanks everyone. I think then that I'd translate the phrase thus: a glint of sun. This to me captures the idea of light reflecting from shiny metal.
     

    xtrasystole

    Senior Member
    France
    Entre deux nuages, un bref instant, un soleil de limaille a tout remis à neuf
    Mmm... That's totally unclear to me :confused:

    The phrase is definitely not standard, and I checked my good ol' Dictionnaire Historique de la Langue Française (Robert, Paris, 1998) to no avail...

    The best I can come up with —not far from what le Prof said— is that it's a metaphor for the bright sun breaking through the clouds like the shower of incandescent iron filings you get when using a grinding machine (to cut iron bars), if you see what I mean ("de la limaille incandescente").

    That would be consistent with the context.
     
    First I thought of an exhausted sun (as the limaille is what you get when you ... but it would be in contradiction with the end of the sentence : a tout remis à neuf.
    Now, imaging that the limaille would be "incandescente" as xtraystole suggest is a beautifull view ... but it does not come naturally to my mind.
    If you had to explain that the limaille is still sparkling, the sun should have come with sparkles, "un soleil étincelant".
    It seems to me that the explanation is much more beautifull and poetic than the word which was used. Limaille is ulgy and dirty, not shining and sparkling.
     

    amg8989

    Senior Member
    USA
    English-United Sates
    new idea: :)

    with the rest of the phrase conveying: "like new again"

    perhaps it's the idea that object that are new are sparkling, then over time there can be lime buildup which turns things green. So the sun came out, and the greenish hue of the sky (the lime/clouds) vanished and it was like the sun made the air "new again"--no more lime, no more green haze.....
     

    The Prof

    Senior Member
    First I thought of an exhausted sun (as the limaille is what you get when you ... but it would be in contradiction with the end of the sentence : a tout remis à neuf.
    Now, imaging that the limaille would be "incandescente" as xtraystole suggest is a beautifull view ... but it does not come naturally to my mind.
    If you had to explain that the limaille is still sparkling, the sun should have come with sparkles, "un soleil étincelant".
    It seems to me that the explanation is much more beautifull and poetic than the word which was used. Limaille is ulgy and dirty, not shining and sparkling.
    My initial thought was the same - when the sun first appears after rain it is usually weak, here in our part of the world, anyway, in keeping with Ellea's "pale and grey(ish) sun".
    However, as you say, there would then be the contradiction of "tout remis à neuf".

    But does "limaille" have to be ugly and dirty? It can be the product of many things, including gold. Suddenly, with the idea of gold filings, the image changes!

    How I wish it were possible to contact authors and ask them for an explanation. :D
     

    xtrasystole

    Senior Member
    France
    Check this photo of "un soleil de limaille" out (about half way down the web page).

    Doesn't it look like a shower of "limaille incandescente"? :)
     
    Bravo xtray. Again, you found a picture/photo explaining the meaning of a word.
    So, there is more than one poet who says "Soleille de Limaille". And one has taken a picture :)
    Let's admit that signification and definition. It's shiny.
     

    amg8989

    Senior Member
    USA
    English-United Sates
    Check this photo of "un soleil de limaille" out (about half way down the web page).

    Doesn't it look like a shower of "limaille incandescente"? :)

    It's funny, I saw that same web page and photo while searching....



    --OK the story takes place in Calais, there is limestone in Calais--along the seaside cliffs as well. Perhaps it was saying there was a bright sun burst that illuminated the limestone and its greenish hues.

    so like a sun that brightens and "cheers up" the "gloomy" limestone.... ??
     
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    The Prof

    Senior Member
    Yes, well done! :thumbsup:

    I have been searching for a similar picture with an English title in the hope that it would offer a suitable translation, but we English don't seem to have such a way with words - the only one I could find was entitled "Sunshine after the rain"! :(
     
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