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Today, I was very happy to receive an original 1783 print of Le Souper fin (as capitalized on the piece)...but how would you translate the title?

So far, I've seen The Supper's End, The End of Supper, The Agreeable Supper (?), and The Late Supper.

Perhaps there's a nuance from the period that can yield a better translation of the title, especially knowing some of the background of the image?

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    the... fine supper? Mar 31, 2023 at 9:52
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    It seems to be a word play based on the double meaning of fin: 1) the end and 2) fine
    – Roger V.
    Mar 31, 2023 at 19:35
  • Posée donc une semaine avant la Cène, arriver comme mars en carême, quoi ! t.b.
    – livresque
    Apr 1, 2023 at 9:36

2 Answers 2

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In the BnF link you provided there is the quote "Le souper de D. Sancio fut exquis..." [exquisite] so that sets the tone. The collocation is reminiscent of those with valuable stones etc. like "diamant fin", which is about the highest level of purity, something not altered, and with food it's usually about a delicacy; generally it's about the highest level of quality. More abstract meanings for the adjective relate to something delicate, elegant and distinction, sensitivity, refinement. This is not "la fin du souper" [the end of...] nor "souper-fin" [that meal as an end in itself] I would think.

− Fin repas, souper fin. Un fin dîner, avec un potage au blé vert, des langues de rennes de Laponie, des surmulets à la provençale, une pintade truffée (Goncourt, Journal, 1882, p. 157) [TLFi]

Un souper, un repas fin, constitué de mets choisis. [Ac.9] [i.e. dish of the highest quality]

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  • I'm blown away by your elegant answer. Thus, what I'm looking for perhaps needs a touch of playfulness: Because what is transpiring is perhaps indelicate, the ironic "The Delicate Supper" might just do it for me until someone proposes an alternative. Thank you so much for this!
    – mig81
    Mar 31, 2023 at 7:12
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    Nice answer. I laughed at "supper as an end in itself".
    – Luke Sawczak
    Mar 31, 2023 at 10:46
  • @mig81 Welcome, glad you liked it. There may be more to it than plain language as you hinted, another answer might explore period/work specific material. My answer is about language. Cheers. Mar 31, 2023 at 18:02
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"souper fin" litteraly means fine supper, but in the eighteenth century it refers to good food followed by sex (see the painting "le souper fin" by Moreau le jeune).

In the book "bruxelles la nuit" by Mario Aris (1871), you can read "le souper fin ..., innocent en lui-même si la suite n'était pas la débauche" (the delicate supper itself innocent ..., if not followed by sexual relations).

From Paris Musée web site, you can read about the painting "Le Souper fin. Dans une élégante petite salle à manger, deux jeunes gens et deux jeunes femmes soupant ensemble. Une de ces dernières, à droite, tient à la main une lettre que son amant, assis à côté d'elle, cherche à lui reprendre. .... La scène est éclairée par une lanterne pendue au plafond . Scène de genre, scène d'intérieur, salon, table, vaisselle, guéridons, bougies, bouteille. Désordre, fin de repas, séduction, scène galante, mode et mobilier du XVIIIe siècle". (Disorder, end of supper, seduction, scene of gallantry)

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  • I am again very grateful for such an insightful answer—plus the invaluable cultural context.
    – mig81
    Apr 2, 2023 at 10:17

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