“Je réintégrais l’asphalte…”
zhuh ray-aa-tay-gray laz-FaHLT… Click below to hear this.
I came back to the city…
But so much more than that!
This sentence is taken from another book by Muriel Barbery: Une gourmandise, published by les Éditions Gallimard in 2000. In its English translation, it is called Gourmet Rhapsody.
The principal narrator lives in Paris. In an interesting passage near the middle of the book, he talks about traveling throughout France, often into the countryside, for his work. After each foray, he returns to his urban home, believing that that is where he is “meant to be.”
It is only much, much later in his life that the narrator realizes that the country–trees, greenery, a life much less circumscribed, is his true home, the place where his heart is planted.
But always, he says, “Je réintégrais l’asphalte…”. I came back to the city, yes, but also: I reintegrated the asphalt, as if the hard edges of the city were the heart of his very self and the single defining characteristic of the city, as opposed to trees, for him the very opposite of the asphalt.
Réintegrer means to go back to a place, a place that is a part of you…or that you are a part of. Home, or something like that. So when you go back, you become a part of it again, you reintegrate yourself into that landscape, you again become one with it.
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