‘Marée fraîche’ is the title of a booklet by the French writer Pierre Hamp. One would translate it as ‘Fresh Tide’, but in Russia, it was translated as ‘Свежая рыба’, ‘Fresh Fish’. The writer Konstantin Paustovski made me curious about this text because he wrote that it was one of the few interesting things he read in the summer of 1926. Sergei Tretyakov, a Soviet literary theoretician, also mentions the booklet in his text ‘The Biography of the Object’. For Tretyakov, this booklet is an example of how a story can be told without the traditional hero, the central person in the novel around who an impossible series of deeds is accumulated.
‘Fresh Fish’ was first published early in the twentieth century in a series called ‘La Peine des Hommes’, ‘The Sorrow of Men’. The introduction immediately sets the tone:
“Nothing is banal. One finds as much fatigue and heroism in a crumb of bread as in a stone of the Pyramids. We live of the suffering of others. Every man is an executioner of men. How many earn their living with pleasure? All in discomfort, often torture. Happiness is to love one’s job, but where are the lovable jobs? Under the hardness of labour, revolt becomes the dream of men, and idleness their search. The work during which we no longer sing, forms one great oeuvre of human stupidity. The worker does not like his job anymore, and that undermines the world.”
Years ago, I found this plate on a fish stall in a small village in Ireland. It would be the perfect cover illustration for the English translation of ‘Marée fraiche’, if ever there was one.
I have often wondered how I got so lucky to be able to work with pleasure. No sweat of my brow for my food. Especially now that I don’t have to earn a living anymore and I am able to spend more time writing, I notice how important it is to love what you do and find satisfaction in it.
Writing is a kind of cooking; you carefully choose a fresh fish and the vegetables that go with it. Then you start preparing the meal, everything in the right order and time. Gradually the kitchen fills with the smells that announce a delicious meal.
I hope you enjoy the taste of the food that is offered here. Although you cannot smell it, you can be sure that everything is fresh and prepared with great care. But be careful while eating: there might be some little fishbones left…
This site serves two purposes. One is to easily publish some of my thoughts on things that keep me busy, worry or inspire me. And the other is to gather some of my earlier publications, make them available and archive them. There is still much to be done in the archival section. Not everything I wrote is already available here. But this should not keep me from writing. I write in Dutch, English and, with some help, I am also starting to write in Russian. It does not mean that every text here will be translated into the two other languages. Some English texts will also be in Russian and some Dutch ones you might also find in English. But I will not try to translate very literally. It might even be that a subject leads to one text in Dutch and a different one in Russian. But most of these texts are only in one language. Luckily, images are not limited to nations and languages, so nothing is lost in translation there. Although I like to combine texts and photos, I thought it well also to make a separate section only for images and their captions.
A feature that distinguishes a blog from a printed essay is interaction. There is always the possibility to leave a comment on this site, but I cannot respond to each and every one. At the moment I am looking at the possibilities to directly ask you things and get some communication going. So don’t be surprised to find a poll or another kind of questionnaire in a blog. You can certainly skip them, but I think you will like them and would also like to know the results.
I found this plate in the botanical garden in Cambridge. Like a flowerbed, this site is continually undergoing renovation. Not only the links might change, but I tend to change things while re-reading my texts.
So please feel free to share everything published here, but be aware that the content might change in time.
And when sharing, please do not forget to mention the author and the source.