CONCOURS GÉNÉRAL DES LYCÉES – SESSION DE 1990
(Classes terminales A, B, C, D et E)
Durée : 5 heures
L’usage de tout dictionnaire est interdit
Dans le texte suivant, traduire de « Once in the room » jusqu’à… « ambulatory wire tap. »
Once in the room, the senator became another person. Dolly recognized the change; she had seen it a hundred times before, likening it to the man by day who turned into a werewolf at night.
In the case of the senator, it was the political animal. His body relaxed. Everyone in the living room became a part of his extended family. He was gracious, he was charming. He told Heller that he. had never looked younger, Justin that he had read with great interest a piece he had written for the Washington Post, Winifred that she was ageless — »You evoke a dream of youth »— and Frances that if she could market the secret of her skin, she could make millions. He introduced Leonard with pride, left him under the protection of his grandmother and his grandfather, and kissed Dolly very tenderly.
She recalled a talk the senator had given some years back at Yale. The subject was politics, and the senator had begun by saying, « Politics, from the Latin politicus and the Greek politikos, the art of the people, the art of belonging to the people ».
Did he believe it ? Had he ever believed it ? But there were so many things that were neither black nor white, but rather defined by a fluid field of changing grays; and he always specified, in his dislike and frequent Fdisgust with the people who ran the government from the White House, taking it out of the president’s hand and into their own, that they lacked the only virtue any government could claim, the process of election. They were not elected. They had never gone before the people. They had never touched the people or felt them. They were of the old, wretched world of kings and courts.
« I think your son is perfectly beautiful », Frances said to Dolly.
« Yes. Thank you. »
« I never had a son », Frances said, « and Webster still feels that life dealt unfairly with him. But they do say that a son’s a son until he gets him a wife, but a daughter’s a daughter all of her life. »
Richard had warned her about Frances Heller. « She comes off as a total idiot. She may not be smart, but she’s damn cunning and anything you let slip comes right back to Heller. That’s why he brings her along. She’s useful, a sort of ambulatory wire tap. »
Dolly could not think of anything said here that could be useful to Heller. All her life she had been exposed to the conversation —better called chatter— of the rich and the powerful, and unless it dealt directly with the business of being rich and exercising power, it was filled with inanities; and since their women were excluded for the most part from the business of getting richer or increasing power, they spoke of little else other than inanities. Never had she heard, in the chatter over cocktails and across dinner tables, philosophy, personal or otherwise; curiosity concerning the universe and its ultimate mysteries; thoughts, however puerile, about the fate or hopes of man; points of ethics or hints of brotherhood. Yes, books, when they were marked as best sellers by the Washington Post, films and plays occasionally, but without depth and without wit. Long ago, she had ceased to be a participant and had become an observer.
« One treasures the young », Heller was saying to Elizabeth and Leonard.
« Of course », Elizabeth agreed. « Which is why we have wars and atom bombs. »
« Defense is our gift to the future », Heller said. He was not tuned to sarcasm.
Dolly signaled to Richard, and the senator took Elizabeth’s arm and announced that dinner would be served.
As they marched into the dining room, Richard Cromwell fought for every step and every word, and he fought against his inclination to put his face in his hands and weep. MacKenzie was already in the dining room, playing the role of a proper, sensitive British butler, just as he had seen it done in British films. As the senator was seated, MacKenzie whispered, « Senator, sir, these two mothers in the big caddy won’t move. They just sitting there outside, waiting for terrorists ».
« Fuck them », the senator whispered.back into MacKenzie’s ear.
As was most frequently the case, both these men were in perfect accord with each other.
Howard FAST, The dinner party, Hodder and Stoughton, NY, 1987, p. 191-194.
Lire le texte en entier et répondre en anglais aux questions suivantes:
1. Political outlooks in the passage.
2. Socializing at the senator’s.
3. Dolly as a foil in the narrative.
4. To what extent do you share the senator’s definition of politics ?