Les « Intraduisibles »

Too French for translation…

#4 Retrouvailles

As one would expect, the origins of this noun can be found very simply in the Vulgar Latin ‘tropare’ meaning ‘to discover’, with the addition of the prefix ‘re-’, ‘again’. A glance at any dictionary will leave you with the following English translation: reunion. Whilst this suggestion does, to an extent, coincide with the etymological roots of the french word retrouvailles, the more personal and emotive connotations of the French counterpart are neither incorporated nor expressed.

For this noun captures the irrepressible joy experienced when you meet someone again after being apart for a long time. Retrouvailles encapsulates a feeling of happiness, the resurgence of the past into present, a sense of longing and nostalgia having being rightfully satisfied.


In Ivan Petrus’ 2011 comic book entitled Les Retrouvailles de Nieuport, we are presented with three soldiers down in the trenches during the World War I; a Belgian man, a Frenchman and an Englishman. Together they manage to push back the first wave of attack from the Germans. At that moment begins a story of friendship, one that will supersede life and death. The following day, just before going their separate ways, they decide to meet up again exactly ten years later.

Ivan Petrus’ comic book deals with three men preoccupied with their present becoming past, engulfed by their desire to relive a fond memory in a future present and the chance to rekindle their fond nostalgia of their friendship.