Sans Famile, Alone in the World. (Alleen op de Wereld.)

I write about this so often, I hope I have not done it here.
MBartwork’s aquatint etchings are on the theme of fairy-tales and it made me think of the illustration that comes first into my head, on that subject and it is the illustration, done by G. van Raemdonck, in the book that was given to me when I was a baby: Alleen Op De Wereld, by Hector Malot , translated into Dutch by A.D. Hildebrand.

  1. The sketch is of Remi, the central character, standing outside the courthouse, rubbing his eyes, after Vitalis, has been sentenced to two months’ imprisonment.

    My mother started reading that book to me, practically from when I WAS a baby, the first few years, leaving out the (many) sad parts.
    Still, I always tell how, at night, when I was 6, or, 7 or so, when trying to go to sleep, I would see Vitalis, lying in the snow, dead, under the spare bed, on the other side of the room.

I had such a wonderful time, in 2005, walking with my daughter, who had been in Paris for a year or two, beside the Seine and asking the second-hand booksellers, if they had a copy of Sans Famile.

My daughter (and son) born in Sydney, cannot read Dutch. To them I read Thomas the Tank Engine (son) and Strawberry Shortcake (Yes. The daughter) and MANY other books. Now my daughter has French and, like in a movie, the LAST bookseller had BOTH copies and I’d forgotten that there was a second book!

The booksellers were such characters!! The one I remember best is the one who told my daughter that he’s seen the black and white film of Sans Famle and that she should not buy the book. She would cry too much!!

It was also so good to have one of them point across the Seine and tell us that Hector Malot actually lived there.

Like so many things that my parents and I brought with us to Australia, in 1956, we ( I ) now have a time-capsule of memorabilia of the 50s, including the Hansel and Gretel book and the Piggelmee books (Based on a Russian folk-tale).

In ALL of these books, I find my colouring-in of some of the illustrations, done when I first had coloured pencils.

Practically the only TV shows I currently watch concern antiques being appraised or auctioned, in the U.K.. I can just imagine what someone like that would say about my ‘ruining’ of the pictures in these books.

+ At Maroubra Bay High School, in 1960, I often sat beside fellow Dutch immigrant, Hans, in French lessons. We got so excited, when Mr Fredericks (Unkindly, called Freddo, the Frog, by students) knew all about sans Famile because growing up in Holland, after World War 2, our generation just all read: Alleen Op De Wereld.

  1. If you’ve read my other journal entry, I hope you noticed that my schoolfriend, (Piet) put his arm up, in the same manner, as the fictional Remi, when our migrant ship passed through the last lock, at IJmuiden, and into the North Sea.

I hope that’s not over-kill. :) :(

(Friends of mine, not teachers, got to know John Fredericks, in the 70s, at the Teachers Federation Club. They found him to be such a lovely man!)

Journal Comments

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