Monday, 17 December 2007

Is the International Herald Tribune too puritan?

Roger Cohen's opinion piece in today's International Herald Tribune about Belgium (What crisis in Belgium?; December 17, 2007 state's that the Belgian artist Margritte is famous for his painting of an apple, on which he wrote: 'This not an apple'.

A Belgian reader (who appears to be the very teacher quoted in the article, Gerrit Six) points out that although Margritte did paint apples, there is no such painting as 'This is not an apple'.

In a posting on entitled 'Ceci n’est pas le Herald Tribune' Gerrit Six wrote:

"I am sorry for your journalist writing about the Belgian crisis. Magritte has painted apples but the painting ‘ this is not an apple’ doesn’t exist. He certainly is referring to ‘ ceci n’est pas une pipe’, the painting with a stylish pipe that you of course cannot smoke since it is a painting. Unless American readers have become so puritan that even the slightest reference to pipe (in french it can be usedfor a b-job) is not done. Hope they have not. "

It turns out however (see the comments below) that in fact there IS a painting by Magritte with 'This is not an apple' written on it, and Gerrit is VERY sorry for suggesting Roger Cohen and the IHT got it wrong. Proof positive of the reliability of MSM over bloggers? Even those ones interviewed by Mr. Cohen.

Personally I'm off to check-out Magritte.

3 comments: said...

Very Sorry to say that Magritte did the apple which is not an apple. Apologies dear Roger&Herald. My reputation is on stake. I revoir dear readers..

Gerrit Six said...

I am sorry: there is an apple that isn't an apple by Magritte. Oh dear Oh dear. I apologize dear Roger & Herald.
Mea Maxima Culpa,

Gerrit Six said...

There may well be an argument that the IHT/NYT have an American puritan streak compared to, say, their UK or European counterparts; but I don't buy this one.
Roger Cohen does mention the pipe in the second sentence. And Magritte's "Ceci n'est pas une pomme" (1964), though lesser-known, does exist.
I doubt very many Americans have fluent enough French to be offended by any such slang. There are words that the IHT does not use, but "pipe" seems to be fine. "Colour" with a "u," however -- now that's a different story.