Discuss and learn French: French vocabulary, French grammar, French culture etc.
I understand "si peu flatté qu'il soit." to mean "si peu flatté que soit le portrait" .
Does that make it any clearer?
So it goes:
"My dreams can deceive me about (is that good English?) the nature of other people, but they are infallible with regard to the picture they paint of myself ,as unflattering as it (the picture) might be"
I thought the meaning would have been as George says.
But someone else had 'if a little flattering.'
I think I can go with George's.
Again it IS from the 1930s, by a person born in 1850,
of a conservative nature linguistically.
Well, and I may not be correct but I understand it to be taken as that the painting is flattered.
It would be a bit idiomatic and seems a little eccentric but that is how I imagine it.
Language doesn't have to be logical always -but perhaps I am not right...
Of course you can't say that in English.
If I do a search in googlebooks of "si peu flatté" I get years:
1857, 1829, 1863, 1868.
If you do a search for "portrait si peu flatté" it also shows how old-fashioned it is.
Even " si peu flatté" brings up very few returns in a google search.
The first page says 83,300 results but when you go to the second page it changes to 17 results (nearly all from books -I see Voltaire in there)
I see this example of old French in amongst it
une si affreuse violence ; & je partageois si peu fa foiblesse } j'étois si peu flatté d'en être l'objet, que je doute qu'en quelque endroit que nous eussions été
(a different use of "flatté" there)
quite an old fashioned usage indeed:
un portrait flatté : portrait où la personne est représentée plus belle qu'elle n'est.
-"Le portrait de Tarquin n'a point été flatté; son nom n'a échappé à aucun des orateurs qui ont eu à parler contre la tyrannie (…)"
then I was wrong (100%)