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"pense-creux"

English translation: "idle dreamer"; c.f., "songe-creux"

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GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
French term or phrase:pense-creux
English translation:"idle dreamer"; c.f., "songe-creux"
Entered by: pense-creux
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03:18 Feb 14, 2008
French to English translations [PRO]
Art/Literary - Poetry & Literature / French in Russian literature
French term or phrase: "pense-creux"
In Fyodor Dostoesvsky's novel _Demons_ (1872), one character describes another: "C'est un pense-creux d'ici. C'est le meilleur et le plus irascible homme du monde." Every translation I've found translates this first sentence as, "He's a local dreamer."

The phrase seems to be quite rare. A Google search yields only a little over 200 hits, and many of them refer to Dostoevsky's use in the novel. There also are an inordinately large number of nineteenth-century texts in the results. So the phrase must be archaic, though it is used by a few modern writers and bloggers in what seems to be the same sense.

My question is this: the second part of the phrase, the word "creux," means "hollow" as an adjective or "trough" as a noun. Is the phrase derisive? Does it imply that a person so labeled is a shallow thinker, a second-rate intellect, or is it really as innocuous as "dreamer"? Second, is "pense-creux" a phrase that had currency in France, or might its use have been peculiar to the French-speaking Russian aristocracy?

Many thanks,

Eric
pense-creux
cf. explication
Explanation:
In French the word commonly used is "songe-creux" and it refers to a dreamer indulging in idle fancies. It has a rather pejorative slant. I would say: "a fanciful dreamer".
Selected response from:

xxxEuqinimod
Local time: 05:11
Grading comment
Many thanks. Please take a look at my last note if you have a chance -- but your initial response has been quite helpful.
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
4 +1cf. explicationxxxEuqinimod


Discussion entries: 5





  

Answers


1 day5 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
cf. explication


Explanation:
In French the word commonly used is "songe-creux" and it refers to a dreamer indulging in idle fancies. It has a rather pejorative slant. I would say: "a fanciful dreamer".

xxxEuqinimod
Local time: 05:11
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in FrenchFrench
PRO pts in category: 16
Grading comment
Many thanks. Please take a look at my last note if you have a chance -- but your initial response has been quite helpful.

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  xxxgiltal: euquinimod is right. Look at the site lexilogos.com, you can access every important french dictionaries. Pense-creux is not there. But songe-creux, the idealistic dreamer is there, in the Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française.
15 hrs
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