School Blues by Daniel Pennac - review | Books | The Guardian

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Inaccessible Attic

School Blues by Daniel Pennac, reviewed by Michael Rosen

The familiar way to say in French that you don't care is "je m'en fous". It approximates to "I don't give a fuck about it", but it's lower than that on the obscenity gradient - more "I don't give a toss". When his students say this, what does Pennac do? He gets them to question the grammar of what they're saying. The word "en" encapsulates our "about it". What is this "en", he asks them. What is the "it", that you say pisses you off? In his analysis, wrapped up in this "it" is the "record of daily failures", "grown-ups' opinions", the student's "feeling of humiliation which he converts into his hatred for his teachers and contempt for good students". Pennac makes a contract with his students to break out of this "absurd universe", and they do it by labelling this "it" grammatically, but also emotionally - they call it an "inaccessible attic", a "suitcase you never open".  MICHAEL ROSEN

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This page contains a single entry by achuka published on November 13, 2010 8:30 AM.

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