Sunday, December 15, 2019

Devoir maison MEEF

Jusqu’à mardi midi c’est bon! Je sais que vous êtes débordés.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Captain Cook agrégation anglais 2020 option civilisation post 35: the musket

It is often forgotten that Cook was a military man. This was his favourite weapon.


Friday, December 13, 2019

Evaluation UE L3 Culture populaire au Royaume-Uni depuis 1945

Chers étudiant e s de mon cours de L3 à Rouen. Pour m'aider dans la préparation de cette UE pour l'année suivante, voulez vous bien remplir ce sondage, entièrement anonyme. 


L3 Popular Culture Popular music

You will find here the last class I gave on popular music, in Mp3 form.

This article will also help with some key ideas:

M1 seminar First World War Commemoration

You will find here recordings of the seminars on commemoration!

Part one is here

Part two is here

The PowerPoint is here

This article covers the same ground.

Captain Cook agrégation anglais 2020 option civilisation post 34: Maori commemorations

This short article gives a Maori perspective on the first encounter with Cook, and on the commemoration 250 years later.


Thursday, December 12, 2019

Commenting on the UK election

On m'invite ce soir autour de 23h sur France 24 (français) pour commenter les élections britanniques.

Captain Cook agrégation anglais 2020 option civilisation post 33: réservez ces dates

Si vous préparez l'option B (civilisation) pour l'agrégation externe, il faut réserver ces dates, et tout faire pour être sur Paris

"Captain Cook after 250 years: Re-exploring The Voyages of James Cook" An International Conference on Captain James Cook’s voyages (1768-1779)
7-8 February 2020
Sorbonne Université

There will be 14 short talks on different aspects of Cook, from fireworks to museums, from translation to imperialism.

More details later.

UK election

How has the Uk election been seen on social media?


Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Thème agrégation

  1. We were to have worked on the passage from Slimani in class today. A few people have sent me their translation, but I am myself behind schedule and have not yet corrected them. You may, if you have time, send me your translation of Slimani over the next few days. I will correct and return the translations and post my suggested translation on the blog.
  2. Next Thursday, I believe, you have your mock exam in translation. I know not everyone will be able to make it, given this busy time of year. If you wish to do the translation into English at home (without a dictionary and within the same time limit applied in the real exam) simply send me an email on the Thursday evening and I will send you the passage to translate. It will not be quite like in the exam because you will be typing your translation.
  3. Our next class is on the 8th January and we will be working on Montherlant.
  4. Happy Christmas.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Dernières nouvelles

La situation concernant les transports se clarifie. Je ne pourrai pas être présent pour mon cours à 9h.  Je mettrai des informations supplémentaires ici pour le groupe en question.

Par contre, il semble certain que j’y arrive pour les cours de l’après-midi.
À 15h séminaire ww1
A 17h MEEF M1.

History of migration

A fascinating story from the very beginning of the 20th century.


Monday, December 09, 2019

Classes on Wednesday

I have been able to get a train ticket from Paris to Rouen, but it is unclear if I can get from here to Saint Lazare tomorrow Morning.

L3 Important - changement de salles pour DST 17 décembre

Le mardi 17/12, pour la Civilisation GB groupe C, nous serons en salle A411 de 11h à 12h30. 

Puis en salle A107 avec le groupe A de Civilisation GB de 15h30 à 17h.

L3 Popular music: slides on music

1) Make sure you read yesterday's post!
2) You will find here the Powerpoint concerning "Studying popular music".
3) The Mp3 recording of the second class on music will be posted soon
4) Thanks to the person who reminded me.

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Captain Cook agrégation 2020 option civilisation britannique post 32: plants

The implications and effects of British colonization are more wide-ranging than we suspect, frequently.

Read this article about plants in Australia


Les cours de cette semaine

Mardi, je resterai en région parisienne afin de rejoindre la grève pour défendre les retraites.

Les DST de mes deux groupes de L3 sont reportés d'une semaine.

En ce qui concerne les cours de mercredi, tout dépendra des trains.

Il y aura en tout cas, sur ce blog, des informations et travaux éventuels.

Faites circuler ces informations s'il vous plaît.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Thème agrégation

The report from 2011 including a long commentary on the passage we worked on is Here. http://cache.media.education.gouv.fr/file/agreg_ext/70/4/r_agreg_ext_anglais_2011_194704.pdf

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Women in British popular music

I was speaking yesterday about male domination in Uk popular music. There are of course a number of exceptions: see here


Monday, December 02, 2019

Thème agrégation Amette

On Wednesday, we will be going through the passage from Amette. I think I have sent back everyone's work, but my organization has been breaking up of late, so if I have not returned your translation of Amette, please send me a mail with your translation again.

Actualité à Londres

L'attentat de vendredi dernier s'est vite politisé


La campagne électorale au Royaume-Uni

Campagne électorale? antisémitisme? islamophobie? On m'a interviewé pendant dix minutes à la radio suisse hier sur ces sujets. Le résultat se trouve en ligne ici:



This article will interest both L3 students thinking about popular music and legitimacy, and MEEF students thinking about "the past in the present".


Third seminar on historiography

(Note the link to the important article, which I have given you in a separate post, below).

You will find here the Mp3 recording of the third seminar, where the subject was social history, cultural history, and recent trends in history writing, all concerning the First World War.

The recording is here

And the entire powerpoint for the three seminars is here.

Seminar M1 Introduction to historiography and to memory studies: article

In our Wednesday seminar this week, we will begin by looking at this article in some detail. Please read it first.

A view of world war one historiography

L3 Evaluation - How it works

Someone asked me for more information about the final exam in January. Since you do not know, until you arrive in the exam room, whether the question is on the British programme or on the US programme, this can be a little stressful. Naturally, different lecturers emphasize different priorities, though you should remember that we are not out to trap you and all examiners are looking for a good level of English, a grasp of essential facts and the capacity to structure those facts into an argument which replies fairly precisely to the question.

If the question turns out to be on the British programme, it will be in the form of an essay - that is to say a fairly open question. Of course, you need to be able to mobilize appropriate examples to illustrate your answer, but you are free to choose what examples you use. So, naturally, the problem is not to be sure you have memorized every artist we have studied, or every musician. To help, here is an example from last year . The question was as follows:

"Write an essay in English.

“The power of products of popular culture is that they give the people what they want.”

Discuss this quotation, examining what different thinkers have said concerning the demand for popular culture, and looking in particular at how visual artists have found a wide audience for their work. 

There are many different ways of answering this question well. It was essential to be able to explain that "what people want" is complicated, because (as Bourdieu said) people's social origins define what they will probably want and even it has been said that (as Adorno alleged) the industry can make people want things). But otherwise, it is a very open question which allows you to show the three qualities mentioned in the first question above. Here is the feedback I put on the blog after this test.

“The power of products of popular culture is that they give the people what they want.”
Discuss this quotation, examining what different thinkers have said concerning the demand for popular culture, and looking in particular at how visual artists have found a wide audience for their work.

« Discuss this quotation ». This means you must say how far it appears to be true or false, but also what other similar questions are relevant concerning popular culture.

There are many ways to answer the question, while showing the knowledge you have acquired about British culture specifically. Here are some initial notes, which I will add to as I mark your work.

1)   You should note that this is a controversial quotation and you should be able to show that some might tend to agree and some to disagree.
2)   Some of the terms need dismantling. a) who are « the people » (note the importance of the definite article: « le peuple » not « les gens »). Is there a homogeneous « people » in modern society, or are we divided into « generations » or social classes or « affective alliances »? b) Is it possible to know « what the people want »? This is not a simple idea. Why do people want what they want? Etc.
3)   Which thinkers can you write about in connection with the quotation? Adorno is obviously one. Several students summarized quite accurately the introduction to Adorno’s ideas which I presented in class, but the exercise is not to write a summary. His ideas must be compared with the quotation. Adorno was generally opposed to products of popular culture. Far from believing that people (or the people) were being given what they wanted, he maintained that people were being told what they should want, were being almost obliged to want what the market wanted to sell to them. What is more, he believed that people were being given experiences which were bad for them, which made them into children again and stopped them from becoming fully human.
4)   Several other thinkers could be mentioned, but one obvious one is Hebdige and his work on the meaning of style. He looked at what was provided for young people by rock and roll, punk or reggae subcultures. He does not exactly say that they give people what they want, but that they are useful in people’s lives, because they help to structure (sometimes imaginary) resistance to official capitalist, elitist views of the world. Jyst to tale one example, the lover of reggae, living in a world where white bourgeois or nationalistic thought is taught and valued can with others create a small community where black language and music, peace loving ideas and back to Africa dreams can be put at the centre of life.
You might also want to mention Grossberg, and his idea that people use popular culture to build affective alliances, imagined communities which allow them to deal with the world. This approach again emphasizes mass participation in popular culture, and does not present popular culture as simply something produced for passive consumers by a market hoping to make a profit.

For the second part on visual art we are still looking at the same question: are people receiving « what they want », but there is an added complication : visual art is not necessarily popular culture. Artists are often trained at elite institutions, for example. This is not always the case: one might term street art as popular culture: anyone can do it, and people can become well known without the intervention of established museums and galleries (often with a little help from the internet), in the way that pop stars might. Banksy is the obvious example, producing accessible, thought provoking work available to everyone, even those who do not feel art galleries are for them. Other artists such as L. S. Lowry have become tremendously popular ( he even has a pop song about him). Photographers such as Martin Parr also seem to be trying to make their work accessible, and land artists such as Goldsworthy take their work out of the galleries and out of the towns. [each time you mention, an artist, it is good to give one example of their work, which I am not doing here]. Public sculpture projects such as the fourth plinth are also placed in contexts which make them open to everyone.
On the other hand, a lot of visual art remains reserved to the initiated. Recent winners of the prestigious Turner prize cannot be said to be producing art for everyone.
The question of publicly funded art galleries is linked to the idea of giving people what they want. The fact that galleries are free in the UK, are no longer concentrated only in London, and receive millions of visitors, are vectors of popularity, yet the dynamic is mostly top-down, and the galleries do not correspond to most criteria of popular culture.

Because popular culture is ever changing and extremely heterogeneous, it is very difficult to make strong affirmative statements about it. This means you need to know how to hedge, and this more difficult in a foreign language.
For example, it is better not to say “popular culture is just to entertain people and have fun”. You should say one of the following:

"Many commentators feel that popular culture is only concerned with entertainment and fun."
"Popular culture may be seen as mainly a question of entertainment and fun."

And then you can give some counter example which adds nuance. For example, if pop music is very much concerned with fun, it seems clear that it can sometimes be aiming at making people think, expressing political demands or denouncing injustice. 

This was in fact the classroom test - the principle for the final exam is exactly the same, but it is longer. For the classroom test above, two thirds of students got a mark of ten or over.

I hope this helps!

Thursday, November 28, 2019

L3 popular culture - resources on popular music

Here is an article on British popular music in the 1970s. It is entitled

"What Has Popular Music Ever Done for Us? Pleasure, Identity and Role Play in UK Pop Music in the 1970s" and tries to examine some questions which are not easy.  If we look at the history, we know that punk arrived in the 1970s, rap arrived in Britain 15 years or so later. But is it possible to say why?


And this very important documentary traces the history of the genre "progressive rock" in Britain. This is an important genre because it tended to challenge the distinction between popular culture and high culture. (About 15% of the documentary is not visible on Youtube, but you can see enough to follow the main points).


Finally, a note about the links I put on this blog. Over the semester I have put about fifteen links to articles and videos. these will be useful for you to find examples to illustrate your answers in the exam. To repeat what I said about tests and exams - both the classroom test in December, and the January exam (if it turns out to be about British civilisation) will ask very general questions,  so that you have quite a bit of freedom as to how to illustrate and justify your answer. Of course, if you have more and better examples than everyone else, you will get a good mark.

L3 Popular culture - first class on 20th century British popular music

You will find here the MP3 recording of the first class on 20th century popular music genres.

The slides will be available on this blog later, when I have got through more of them in class.

There will be more popular music reading and links later today on this blog.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The past in the present

Every single day there seems to be an example in the https://www.theguardian.com/education/2019/nov/27/bronze-cockerel-to-be-returned-to-nigeria-by-cambridge-college

réunion d'information

Pour les étudiants de L3,  Master, agrégation:

Partir à l'étranger pour travailler en tant que lecteur:

Réunion d'information

Mercredi 4 décembre 2019 à 12h30 en salle A316

Contact: cecile.fouache@univ-rouen.fr

Monday, November 25, 2019


1) Attention. A l’approche de l’hiver il y a de très méchantes gastros qui se promènent.
2) A cause de 1) je serai absent demain et mercredi.
3) Pour qu’on continue à avancer, Je mettrai sur ce blog de la lecture etc concernant chacun des cours.
4) Faites passer l’information.

Friday, November 22, 2019

A little more contemporary UK art

In this article from a few years back


Le passé dans le présent... et la campagne éléctorale actuelle

"The past in the present" is not an abstract concern: it is entering into the present electoral campaign. How will Indians living in Britain vote? Might they be influenced by the attitude of party leaders to past massacres ? This article is from an Indian newspaper:


And this is the 1919 event they are referring to 


Thème agrégation: suggested translation Brisac

“What’s your favourite animal?” Eugenio asked, as we were walking along in the dark. It was the day before Christmas Eve.
“The koala bear,[1] the squirrel and the otter,” I said. “The koala because of how it clings onto the Eucalyptus tree[2] with its paws, and because it lives near the kangaroos. The squirrel because of the nuts: there is nothing as sweet as giving someone nuts, I always say. And I don’t know why I chose the otter. Because its name sounds ugly and touching, and because of the water.”
I was lying. I was more imagining an animal like an armadillo.
Eugenio had slipped his arm through the little invisible loop  formed by my body and my arm. He was looking worried. “Do you think Queen Elizabeth has had a happy life?” he murmured.
I was about to come out with a petty answer: who’s been talking about that mummy with the hat?[3] It’s your father who’s been talking to you about her!
“Fairly happy, I think, but she’s been disappointed by her children,” I answered
It was wantonly mean of me to bring these two words out together: “disappointed” and “children” and Eugenio curled himself up. I felt ashamed.
“We’d better get our skates on” he said. “We’re late, mummy, get your skates on!”[4]
“That expression if horrid and I’m sure Queen Elizabeth would never say it!” I replied.
Queen Elizabeth is our idol, our whipping boy, our sphinx and our scapegoat.
“She hasn’t had a happy life,” I said, finally, “because she didn’t really want one”.
Such dignity made him marvel. One thing led to another in my mind and it reminded me of some other Queen who had snapped the elastic in her underwear and died because of it. She froze to death in the snow because she would not get up from the stone bench she had retreated to to save her dignity. I told Eugenio this story: dying of cold on an icy stone bench is the epitome of dignity, I explained, suddenly proud of how I was educating my son. But Eugenio snickered: “romanticism is blinding you again, mummy, “it’s not that at all, the story. The Queen cried and screamed and they had ten of the strongest men in the kingdom come out. They tore up the stone bench and carried it to the palace…”

[1] The koala is not a bear, but the expression is common.
[2] Although not all Eucalyptus exude gum, I think « gum tree » was a good translation here. (wikipedia: Eucalyptus is one of three similar genera that are commonly referred to as "eucalypts", the others being Corymbia and Angophora. Many species, though by no means all, are known as gum trees because they exude copious kino from any break in the bark (e.g., scribbly gum).)
[3] Someone tried « hatted mummy » - why not ? or indeed « behatted mummy », but we may be getting too literary for this passage.
[4] I am not sure how old the child is. The following pages show he is not old enough to walk to school on his own, and loves to be taken to Macdonalds. « Mummy » would suggest under eight or nine years old, so I am going to keep it. « Mum » could suggest older, but family traditions vary.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Devoir maison deadline MEEF M1

I know you are busy people, but I will have to be inflexible with the 15th December deadline for the homework assignment.

This is because I want to go over the dossier and discuss suggestions about it in the class on the 18th  December. Obviously I can't accept homework assignements after that!

L3 Popular Culture: Reggae Britannia

In class I have concentrated on genre values and constraints. Here is a very good documentary staking out the history of one particular musical  genre : Reggae in the UK


Document préparation m e e f

Some of you have not got the document (DM). It is here.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019


I thought I would start this afternoon's  class with some information about the upcoming election. So do prepare questions.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Captain Cook agrégation anglais 2020 option civilisation post 31 Timewatch: Cook the Man

Quite a number of the videos  and articles I have been recommending deal with quite specific aspects of Cook, his history and the commemorations. This is a much more general one, a summary of Cook's voyage from a fairly traditional point if view, but very well put together:


The video opens up a whole series of historical and historiographical questions, but also is a clear summary of part of Cook' s life.

Thème agrégation: This week's translation

We'll just end at the word "palais".

Sunday, November 17, 2019

More news about Banksy

This week, news about one of Banksy's works is again provoking reflectiion about what art does, and what the art market is for. See here:


Saturday, November 16, 2019

La Revue française de civilisation britannique

The main journal for British Studies in France (although there are others which are almost as good) can be found here 


L3 popular culture- visual art

You will find here the MP3 recording of the second class on visual art in Britain since 1945.

All the visual art slides  are here.

M1 seminar week 2 of writing the history of the First World War

You will find here a recording in MP3 of the second class.

The slides  will come later, when I have got to the end of the PowerPoint.

Here you will find an article about the role and activities of the Church of England during the First World War.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Suggested translation: passage from Mauriac

Suggested translation Mauriac. The passage in French is available in the booklet at the 4th September entry in this blog. This suggested translation will remain online for two weeks.

After the children had left[1], Xavier Frontenac watched his sister-in-law once more[2] : she still looked hostile.[3] How might[4] he have offended her ? He had spoken of[5] dutiful women, of which she was the perfect embodiment. He did not understand how such praise[6] could exasperate a widow such as she. The poor man had gravely praised[7] the nobility of sacrifice, and had declared that nothing in the world was as beautiful as a woman faithful to her deceased husband and devoted heart and soul to her children. In his eyes she only existed for the Fontenac offspring. He never thought of his sister-in-law as a solitary young woman who could[8] feel sadness or despair. Her fate[9] was a matter of complete indifference to him. As long as she did not re-marry[10] and she brought up Michel’s children, he reflected no further on her case. This was what Blanche could not forgive him for. It was not that she felt any regret : on her husband’s decease she had weighed up[11] the sacrifice she was called upon to make and had accepted it, nothing would have made her go back on her decision. But, since she was most pious, in a somewhat arid and pernickety way, she had never believed herself able, but for God’s help, to find the strength to live in this way ; for she was a passionate[12] young woman with a fiery heart. That evening, if Xavier had has eyes to see, he would have felt pity for her, left amidst the books scattered on the carpet[13] and the untidiness of the forsaken nest, a tragic mother, with eyes of jade, and a bilious creased face, where some remnants of beauty still resisted the wrinkles  and the weight loss. Her hair, already grey and a little untidy, made her an unkempt appearance[14] as of a woman who no longer hopes for more. Her black blouse, buttoned up in front , emphasized her thin shoulders and small bust. Her whole being  betrayed the tiredness, the exhaustion of the mother devoured[15] alive by her offspring. She asked not[16] to be admired or pitied, but to be understood. The blind lack of concern of her brother-in-law  caused her to be beside herself with rage, and she became brutal[17] and unfair. She regretted it and beat her breast[18] in penance as soon as he had left, but all her good resolutions came to nothing when she saw once more the expressionless face of that small man who could not see[19] and before whom she felt non-existent, that man who had her marked down[20] for oblivion.

François Mauriac Le Mystère Frontenac

[1] Remember the preference of English for verbal constructions.
[2]Once more » or « once again” are better here than just « again » becaus ethey make for a more literary tone.
[3] Or « she had not been mollified ». Or « her anger had not lessened ».
[4] If you were tempted by « would » re-read the whole section on modals in your grammar book.
[5] Note that « talked about » is not as good, since it is less formal.
[6] Here, « praise » is an uncountable noun. It can occasionally be countable, as in, « they were singing your praises », but in general it is uncountable.
[7] Notice that « insisting heavily » is French, really.
[8] « Could » is better than « might » here, since we are in radical modality : it is her capacity to feel, not the probability that she might feel, which is in question.
[9] Or « What became of her ».
[10] « Re-marry » is more formal than « marry again » or « get married again ».
[11] Not « measured ».
[12] Somebody tried « intense », but this is not correct. If we say someone is « intense » it is a rather pejorative comment, meaning that they invest a lot of emotion in matters which should not involve so much feeling.
[13] Not « the rug ». A rug is small enough to carry under one arm.
[14] One cannot say here «  a neglected woman « , since that would not refer to her appearance.
[15] « Eaten alive » is good. Someone trued « eaten up alive » but « up » generally implies « completely », and here the process is not finished.
[16] This structure is more literary than « she did not ask… »
[17] I am realizing that « violent » in English involves physically hitting someone, whereas « violent » in French does not.
[18] The sense is figurative, and this is a fixed expression.
[19] Someone tried « eyeless ». This is an extremely rare literary word which means literally without eyes. The only place I have ever seen it is in Milton’s impressive poem, Samson Agonistes https://www.bartleby.com/4/602.html
[20] Or « who consigned her ».

M1 MEEF scheduling

Remember there will be a class on Wednesday 18th December. This will be at the same time as you rusual weekly class, but not in the same room. It will be in A400.

L3 popular culture - scheduling

Remember there will be a class on Tuesday  17th December. This will be at the same time as your class is every week, but in a different room : it will be in A400.

MEEF Utopies etc

Voici des videos. Documentaires, conférences etc.



Chartism again

MEEF migrations

Thank you to the person who reminded me that I had forgotten to put on line resources connected with the history of migration to Britain, after the classes I gave on this in October.

The PowerPoint is here.

You can find here recordings of a generally similar class I gave last year (history of immigration)

And here recordings of a class on the history of racism and antiracism.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The Industrial revolution

An excellent BBC documentary on the Industrial revolution. Indispensable, and very interesting.


Captain Cook agrégation anglais 2020 option civilisation post 29: online journal

The journal of Cook's first expedition is available online.
You can find it here: http://southseas.nla.gov.au/journals/cook/contents.html 

Although you need the Penguin edition, which is shorter, and which is the version which will be used for the agrégation exam, the online version is very useful because you can seach for any key word you wish, and this makes a thematic exploration of the journal far easier.

MEEF M1 Devoir maison

I will be giving you at this afternoon's class (remember it begins at 5.30 pm) your "devoir maison". You have until 15th December to send it to me by mail to john.mullen [:/at:/]  univ-rouen.fr . No handwritten work, please.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Captain Cook agrégation 2020 option civilisation post 28 .

This website https://www.bl.uk/the-voyages-of-captain-james-cook/articles

Is on the British Library website, and gives you plenty of reading matter, from a number of points of view.

L3 Visual Art in Britain since 1945

You will find here the recording of the first class on visual art.

Keywords: lecture, podcast, visual art, United Kingdom,  Lowry, Emin, Moore, Hepworth, Bacon, Freud

M1 Writing the history of the First World War: introduction to historiography

You will find here (in PDF) an example of a historical article on the cultural history of the First World War. Not the sources, the corpus, the questions, the assumptions, the objectives, the methods etc.

Just click here

You will find here the recording of the first seminar on writing the history of the First World War - useful for revision purposes.

Just click here

The accompanying slides are here.

M1 MEEF Some British scientists

Isaac Newton Charles Darwin Caroline Herschel Mary Anning Francis Crick Rosalind Franklin Stephen Hawking.

The slides are here

And the MP3 podcast of the class is here

Friday, November 08, 2019

MEEF Revising British history

One of my colleagues has put online  a list of podcasts which might be useful to revise your British history and civilization (although you can also scroll back months and years on this blog to listen to past classes on different centuries which I have given).

Dr Brailowsky's list is here


Suggested translation: passage from Ikor

The passage translated here can be found in the booklet at September 4th in this blog. This translation will stay online only for a couple of weeks.

keywords thème anglais, niveau avancé, agrégation, exercice


One day the old lady forgot[2] to give the child her lunch ; another time, when she had gone out with her for a little walk, she walked past the house without recognizing it ; then, as Sylvia was tugging at her sleeve, she laughed very loudly, making as if she had pulled off a joke. But the child was not taken in. Then there were odd bursts[3] of affection. Suddenly, without warning, her grandmother would[4] catch hold of her, smother her in a hug, cover the little girl with kisses and then push her away[5] almost brutally. Sylvia, who was a very sensible[6] little girl, dared[7] not admit that she had sometimes been really scared, because you would[8] have to be very silly to be scared of granny, would you not ?[9] But she carried around an unvoiced[10] sense of worry. Apart from this, the old lady was just as alert and lively on a normal day ; people who did not know her well were forever enthusing[11] about how young she seemed…

Ludovic did not seem excessively[12] surprised. In fact, as Germaine had to admit[13], he had been worried for a long time, and she was the one who was refusing to look at reality. She wondered for a moment to what extent his hunger for travel was not partly due to a feeling that they had to hurry to make the most of the old lady’s looking after the child[14] while she was still able. It was a hateful thing to think. Germaine blushed and pushed the thought out of her mind, but this kind of suspicion is not so easily to get rid of.

“If you’re still determined to go off travelling,” she said, in a sharper voice than she had intended, “You’ll have to go on your own. I won’t be able to leave Sylvia with your mother any more, not even[15] for a day. I would be too worried”.

“Yes, of course.” Said Ludovic, without thinking.

What must he be thinking of, right then? The Verschoop family would love to have Sylvia stay if needed, they were forever blaring on about it[16]. If that was what he had in mind so as to cling on to his precious travelling, well then … Germaine was seething with indignation at the prospect. Even more so because that would mean leaving his mother with the Verschoops as well! Really! The sheer selfishness of this man, this spoilt child, was beyond the pale. He couldn’t…

“I was just thinking” interrupted Ludovic all of a sudden, “how we could talk Mother into seeing[17] a doctor.” [18]

[2] Remember the rules for anteriority are different in English and in French.
[3] There is nothing you can do with the word « crisis » here.
[4] “Would » is definitely the best option here.
[5] “Away » and not « back » because it is not a matter of returning to a previous position.
[6] Or « level-headed », but certainly not « reasonable ».
[7] You cans say « dared not admit » or « did not dare to admit ». In some contexts these are quite different, but here either is acceptable.
[8] Someone tried with DO reinforcement (You do have to be silly…) but DO does not give the right sort of reinforcement.
[9] Because in this sentence we can, I think, hear the inner voice of the little girl, a contraction might be, very very very exceptionally, acceptable (did you catch that this was exceptional ?). Be careful of word order with « would it not ?».
[10] Or « unspoken »
[11] Or « marvelled » (two l s in British English, only one in American).
[12] « All that suprised » is probably too informal in register.
[13] Or “had to give him credit for that ».
[14] Or « the old lady’s help ».
[15] Here we are in an everyday dialogue, so structures with « be it » or similar are too literary in style.
[16] A structure with « shouting from the rooftops » is good, too.
[17] « Undergo a medical examination » is not the appropriate register.
[18] Someone tried « health assessment » but that is far too administrative in style.