October 25, 2020:
My encounter with these materials was distorted even further by my failure to learn French.
I failed twice. At UCSD I found the cadence overwhelming. It was too many words at too fast a tempo, while I was meanwhile struggling mightily with ADHD. The factory model of pedagogy was wrong for me, and I left. At Johnston I dropped the University course I attempted because I was appalled by the behavior there of my Johnston colleague, whose arrogance reached a shocking level which even the backward University students were forced to confront. She stuffed her superiority up everyone's nose. It was ugly, and I left.
So that I was limited to translations, sometimes tendentiously abridged, where certain of the editions were more like excerpts than faithful transpositions. They're altered to where they're unmoored from the originals, with purposes and logics obscured. Kristeva's Revolution in Poetic Language for example is missing its concluding analysis of Mallarmé, Lautréamont, and revolution, making it appear more like a treatise of literary theory than an attempt to make the theory useful. While the 1967 Pantheon edition of History of Madness contains roughly one-third the original content. Reading Capital was expunged of the contributions of Rancièr and Establet. My French-reading colleagues could engage with the originals — I sometimes bought them for them from the upstairs room at Cody's — but I was for decades shit outta luck.
This has gradually changed. Now in my 60s with somewhat slowed metabolism and decades of experience managing the Ligeti choir of voices in my head I've slowly added enough French over the years that I can kinda read the originals — provided I keep the English handy for reference. If I live long enough I may finally get French sorted. What difference will this make? Unsure. My sense is my understandings are by this point pretty well immobile. But who knows? Either way it'll be a fun adventure.