un hobereau du voisinage

saw

Member
American-United States
Coucou! I ran across this expression (in regard to Flaubert's Madame Bovary), and my husband (French native) and I can't figure out what it means exactly. Anyone have any thoughts, please? Thanks in advance!

"un hobereau du voisinage"

Original sentence: "Emma s’abandonne à une passion exaltée pour un hobereau du voisinage, Rodolphe Boulanger."
 
  • OlivierG

    Senior Member
    France / Français
    Hi, Saw, :)

    Welcome to the WordReference forums!

    I renamed your thread in order to comply with the WordReference rules:
    "4. Put the word or phrase in the title when asking a question (Avoid "translation please", "how do I say this?", "does this word exist?", "I'm new" and the like)."

    Thanks for your comprehension,
    Olivier
    Moderator
     

    LaurentK

    Senior Member
    France, FrançaisIrlandais
    As edwingill says, hobereau has a disdainful, if not pejorative, connotation, reason for which I think that nobleman could not work. Could peer work here?
     

    Loic

    Senior Member
    French native speaker from France
    As Edwingill said, it refers to a squire but of lower nobility who lives on his land(s) (so, obviously disparaging when used). The French singer/poet Georges Brassens uses it in that sense in the song Bécassine:

    Tout à fait dignes du panier
    De madame de Sévigné.
    Les hobereaux, les gentillâtres,
    Tombés tous fous d'elle, idolâtres,

    http://www.paroles.net/chansons/11459.htm
    There is another meaning, but quite different and which has nothing to do with the use in Flaubert (or in Brassens for that matter) : it refers to a small bird of prey, slightly smaller than a hawk, perhaps used by the hobereau to hunt ???????
     

    edwingill

    Senior Member
    England English
    As edwingill says, hobereau has a disdainful, if not pejorative, connotation, reason for which I think that nobleman could not work. Could peer work here?
    what is wrong with (country) squire? one of it's meanings is a man who has a romantic relationship with a woman
     

    RuK

    Senior Member
    English/lives France
    Harraps says "(sarcastically) small landed squire", so that doesn't help. (Also makes it sound as if the person is small, not his land). Maybe "a minor squire"? "a bumpkin of a squire?"
     

    edwingill

    Senior Member
    England English
    from freedic Squire: 1. A man who attends or escorts a woman; a gallant.
    2. An English country gentleman, especially the chief landowner in a district.
    3. A judge or another local dignitary.
    4. A young nobleman attendant upon a knight and ranked next below a knight in feudal hierarchy.

    tr.v. squired, squir·ing, squires To attend as a squire; escort
     

    RuK

    Senior Member
    English/lives France
    Sadly, hobereau doesn't mean a squire in the sense of the person who accompanies a young lady, squiring her about - it means a person who has inherited a small expanse of land and is considered to be a member of Society (in the case of hobereau, possibly somewhat low-ranking). It's the local dignitary meaning which applies. The question is, how to make it sound a tiny bit sarcastic so it fits with hobereau's fuller meaning (which I didn't know till today).
     

    clairet

    Senior Member
    England & English (UK version)
    I believe "hobereau" has connotations of ignorance and provinciality - very minor country gentry clinging to the dignity of a title but actually pig-ignorant, in a backwater and impoverished. I have vague memories of (reading about!) a "revolt of the hobereaux" in C17 southern France against someone (Richelieu or Louis XIV presumably) trying to make them pay taxes.
     

    Loic

    Senior Member
    French native speaker from France
    it means a person who has inherited a small expanse of land and is considered to be a member of Society (in the case of hobereau, possibly somewhat low-ranking).
    (Ruk)
    When I said (post #6) of lower nobility, I may not have expressed it properly but that's what I meant, it is essential to the idea of "hobereau", perhaps even a kind of "upstart" but a "rustic" one :)) Do you have anything in English that might convey both shades of meaning ????
     

    clairet

    Senior Member
    England & English (UK version)
    (Ruk)
    When I said (post #6) of lower nobility, I may not have expressed it properly but that's what I meant, it is essential to the idea of "hobereau", perhaps even a kind of "upstart" but a "rustic" one :)) Do you have anything in English that might convey both shades of meaning ????
    It's difficult to find a short term so all I can suggest is what came naturally to mind when giving my last answer (just above yours) - "very minor country gentry" - the "very minor" (especially the "very", which turns this into a perjorative term) indicates that the writer is treating the "country gentry" term with disdain as belonging to someone making pretentious claims; and it's obviously rustic.
     
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