Philippe Lafargue, my Roubo translation collaborator and long-time friend, has been insulted.
Deeply. By M. Roubo himself.
Roubo’s chapters on chairmaking are technically sublime, with many profound insights and word pictures I find captivating. However, he is incessant in his demeaning descriptions of chairmakers, accusing them of being sloppy, careless, unskilled and slothful. Somewhere between the lines he is probably implying that they are hung over, their feet stink and they don’t love Jesus. Though he does not comment on their table manners, we can guess what he might say.
As a graduate of the renowned École Boulle curriculum in classical French chairmaking, Philippe unsurprisingly takes umbrage at these characterizations. He has gone so far as to wonder out loud (well, in print correspondence) why it is that Roubo was so contemptuous of chairmakers.
If we knew where Roubo is buried, it might be worth trying to dig him up and asking him. When you read Roubo’s accounts of chairmaking, you will no doubt ask yourselves the same question.
— Don Williams