A French novel has the sentence “Les hommes désespérés vivent dans des angles.” It’s in the context of “desperate” city dwellers living “dans des angles”. I can find no translation. It may be referring to something like dark hidden corners of the city, as in “dark alleys”? Is it related to “angle mort” — “blind spot”? Thanks for any help you can provide.

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    Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 8:30

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The context is not about desperate "city dwellers". The sentence is in the very first paragraph of Pascal Quignard's Terrasse à Rome.

Les hommes désespérés vivent dans des angles. Tous les hommes amoureux vivent dans des angles. Tous les lecteurs des livres vivent dans des angles. Les hommes désespérés vivent accrochés dans l’espace à la manière des figures qui sont peintes sur les murs, ne respirant pas, sans parler, n’écoutant personne.

The word just has the usual meaning of "angle", i.e. a geometric figure formed by two line segments that have a common endpoint. This angle constitutes a small place where one can hide if they want to isolate from the world and not be seen.

You can take the word at face value and understand that Meaume hid in dark corners since he was disfigured by acid, desperate after being rejected by the one he was madly in love with, and he did not want to meet anyone, or even be seen. When Meaume says Tous les hommes he is generalising from his own experience. The dark corners are not specifically in cities, they can be anywhere; the present dark corner where Meaume is speaking from is on a cliff above Ravello, there were others.

This passage has been widely commented and you will find numerous explanations online. An analysis of this passage and the role of angles as places to hide can be found in « Le Roman à images : description et fragmentation chez Claude Simon, Renaud Camus et Pascal Quignard ». (Chiara Falangola,Thèse soutenue en juin 2013, University of British Columbia, online pp. 190 ff).

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