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Feuilles Volantes

It must have been around 1980, and instead of frequenting internet one only could go to libraries. It is hard to remember how I came across them. Maybe someone mentioned them, maybe they were on a pile of returned documents which the librarians had to store again in the archive. They were in a box, some old pages, printed recto-verso, half an A4 probably, 13x20cm or smaller, they looked hundreds of years old. They proved to be from the early 19th century.

They were labeled “Vliegende Bladen” (NL), considered the wrong translation of “Feuilles Volantes”, and contained a collection of poems and songs, sung by anonymous travelling singers, accompanied by a drum or violin. Most of them were composed on well known folk melodies, so the audience could easily hum along. In some cases the performer would simply pluck one string of a fiddle. Maybe they were not professional musicians at all, but then again, professionality is and was always very different from virtuosity.

More of interest was the content, which ranged from domestic issues, theft, murders and natural disasters, fantastic and romantic stories, to political and social critique. Suddenly I found vivid evocations about the war in Bosnia, the fighting in a war against the Dutch, the revolt of the spinners and cotton weavers in the early industrial revolution, famine on the countryside,… They were written in a direct but poetic language, addressing news items to an at that time 90% and more illiterate audience. As such these wandering poets/musicians were part of an important media channel. They lived from their poetic efforts and were selling these Feuilles Volantes for a couple of cents. The box contained pamphlets coming from the same specialized printer, sometimes decorated with the first lines of the melodies. It was obvious they were taking side of the poor peasant population and the exploited factory workers, men and women, children, at the moment that no political parties existed yet. They were the radio and television, newspapers and storytellers for the general population. What's more, they were shared among the singers across the European continent, translated, put to different folk melodies, and adapted to new events.

What are feuilles volantes? (ChatGPT)

“Feuilles volantes” is a French term that translates to “flying leaves” in English. Similar to the previous context, it can be used to refer to loose or flying sheets of paper. The term is often used to describe printed materials like flyers, leaflets, or handbills that are distributed by hand or scattered in the air during events, promotions, or campaigns.

In a broader sense, “feuilles volantes” can also be used more figuratively to describe scattered or loose pieces of information, ideas, or writings. It's a term that can be applied in various contexts, both literally and metaphorically, depending on the nature of the flying leaves.

The term “flying leaves” can be interpreted in different ways depending on the context. Here are a few possible meanings:

Literal Leaves in the Wind: In a literal sense, “flying leaves” could refer to leaves from trees being carried through the air by the wind. This is a common occurrence, especially during windy weather.

Printed Materials: In a more metaphorical or symbolic sense, “flying leaves” might refer to printed materials, such as flyers, pamphlets, or leaflets, that are distributed and may be carried by the wind. These materials are often used for advertising, promotions, or conveying information.

Imagery or Metaphor: The phrase could also be used metaphorically to describe a situation where numerous small and light elements are scattered or moving freely, resembling the way leaves might scatter in the wind. This could be applied to various contexts, such as ideas, thoughts, or objects.

feuillesvolantes.txt · Last modified: 2023/12/12 10:38 by givanbela