The French Portrait of a People Author:Sanche De Gramont From the Introduction: — "I am the product of French parents, French secondary schools, and French military service; I am also the product of Yale and Columbia universities, a ten-year career on New York City newspapers and national magazines . . . and finally, I am in the custody of an American wife. As someone who has lived twenty years in the ... more »United States and fifteen years in France, and who writes and thinks in English but still counts and occasionally dreams in French, the study of national character has become my particular form of introspection. In adjusting to my dual origin I have become bivalve, like the oyster, to separate the contradictory traits I have acquired. I feel by turn nomadic and sedentary, hearty and formal, confident and suspicious, ail. adept of time-motion studies anu a fanciful idler, and I suffer from both a French liver and American blood pressure.
"I have seen France as someone who, accustomed to a garden, does not think to identify its flowers, but who, returning after a prolonged absence, acquires the curiosity of a horticulturist. . . . The French occupy an area colored green in my atlas, with borders and terrain features. They speak a language distinguishable from other languages, which French writers have used to compose a literature. They obey (or disobey) the same laws, and are ruled by and overthrow the same governments. They recognize certain events as forming their history, and some of these events are reinterpreted to contribute to a sense of national kinship. The past is a lesson to be learned and a legacy to draw from. . . . There is a common frame of reference, by which the nation's inhabitants know one another to be French: . . . It is a fund of data acquired by being raised in a country, knowledge less learned than absorbed through the pores as well as