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Mes rêves peuvent me tromper sur la nature des autres, mais ils sont infaillibles dans le portrait qu'ils me donnent de moi-même, si peu flatté qu'il soit.

What does 'si peu flatté qu'il soit' mean?

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I could have understood something like 'si peu qu'il me flatte.' The way it is in that context, it's baffling to me.

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"

"être flatté" is the passive voice, not the same as 'flattering.'
What are the subject and object of the verb flatter?

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.

The meaning is not hard to guess. But semantically how does it work exactly? Is it correct for "être flatté" to be interpreted as 'flattering' ? And if it's not so, then maybe the meaning is something else.
How about this possibility: "il" is just an indefinite pronoun, the object of the verb flatter. The subject, the portrait, is left unmentioned. So , structurally, the interpretation becomes : 'It be little flattered (by the portrait).'

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 (…)"

Montesquieu, Grandeur et Décadence des Romains, i
so "si peu flatté qu'il soit" means that the portrait of his dreams is very close to  reality, the man is not made more attractive or better in his dreams. Quite an objective portrait that is!

then I was wrong (100%)

But your translation at top was right on target after all.


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