Monday, 14 June 2004

Verbal economy

As anyone who has read Victorian novels, newspapers or the Punch of the period will know, writers in those days rarely used one word where they could use fifty. Not so in France; the following exchange is perfect in its simple elegance.

In 1840 François d'Orléans, Prince de Joinville, third son of Louis-Philippe, sent his card to Rachel, the famous actress, who was then the lover of Alfred De Musset. On it he wrote:

Où? Quand? Combien?

and received the reply, written on the same card:

Chez toi. Ce soir. Pour rien.

[For another example of Francophone pith, see HERE.]

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