Low Life and High Life
To the Editor:
I heartily enjoyed the vivid and competent article of Mr. Klonsky on his Paris experiences [“On the Margin in France,” in the November COMMENTARY]. However, it contains some serious mistakes, quite shocking for a French reader.
- The bones of Victor Hugo would shatter in his grave, did he know what sense Mr. Klonsky attributes to the word “Gavroche.” The name of Gavroche, a hero of Les Misérables, has grown into a nickname for a young and daring boy of the Paris slums. Witty and kind-hearted, Gavroche is honest, and does not indulge in finance high or low; in no way does the term apply to a “street-Arab” in the figurative or literal sense of the word.
- “B.O.F.” (Beurre, Oeufs, Fromage) designates a grocer or a dairyman grown rich during the war years, while trafficking in the food black market. Designating a typical figure of present French life, the expression can by no means be applied to an American tourist or a foreigner.
- The French tobacco monopoly, too, might rightly feel offended by Mr. Klonsky’s article. They have produced since the 30′s a brand of cigarettes called “Balto,” which is aimed at satisfying the lovers of the sweet American aroma. Their “High Life” brand never had any such pretensions.
Such are the three improprieties which crept into the otherwise brilliant essay.
Centre de Documentation Juive Contemporaine