In Jean-Luc Godard's film Hélas pour moi at time stamp 1:16:38 one of the characters reads from a text in French which the subtitles translate to:

Thus disappeared all the worlds,
the ports and harbors,
where the Ariel had dropped her anchor,
then cast off to sail the seas...

I'm pretty sure this is from The Tempest but since the person reading the text is reading it in French it's hard to tell. The next student reads a text from Flaubert's Sentimental Education but I'm pretty sure the above text is not from Sentimental Education. If you want to see the actual Jean-Luc Godard movie it's legally available on Kanopy for free. Most public libraries allow you to log onto the site with your library card from your own home.

There's no French transcription of the words but listening to it, it sound like they're saying the following:

Ainsi avait disparu tout le mondes, les ports, les havres, où Ariel a jeté l'ancre. Puis avait (pariée?) pour son (elvogé?) [cross talk] de l'horizon et toujours ces (façon?)

  • Also, I've decided that this question is better suited to the French stackexchange so if you want to shut this thread down, let's move the discussion over to there. french.stackexchange.com/questions/51865/…
    – bobsmith76
    Commented Dec 9, 2022 at 21:32
  • I think: The words "Ariel" and "ancre," which are both mentioned in the text, refer directly to characters from The Tempest: Ariel is a spirit who serves Prospero (the protagonist of the play) while Ancre refers to Antonio's ship which was wrecked by a storm at sea.
    – Adzetto
    Commented Dec 9, 2022 at 21:39
  • It sounds to me more like the Ariel is a ship. I wonder if it could be connected to the ship Percy Shelley was shipwrecked (and drowned) from Commented Dec 10, 2022 at 10:49
  • I read Shelley's biography seeing as he is tied with Octavio Paz and Whitma for being my favorite poet. Shelley bought his boat a year before he died as a means to get around easier on the Italian peninsula since that was where he had been living since 1817/18. I can't remember if he named his boat. I'll have to look it up but I don't know if I will since my copy of Shelley's digital bio is on my external hard drive. In any case, there would be no text out there with those words which referred to S's boat since all worlds did not disappear when S died.
    – bobsmith76
    Commented Dec 10, 2022 at 11:48
  • @bobsmith76: The name of Shelley's boat was actually Don Juan, but he originally intended to name it Ariel, and it was sometimes called that. See this webpage.
    – Peter Shor
    Commented Dec 10, 2022 at 15:15

2 Answers 2


In Shakespeare's The Tempest, Ariel is a kind of spirit of the air, not a vessel. Moreover, the name Ariel does not come from Shakespeare but from the Hebrew Bible, where the name literally means "lion of God". So it is perfectly possible to use the name "Ariel" without reference to Shakespeare.

If the quote involving a vessel named "Ariel" is from a real work of fiction, it is not immediately obvious which one:

  • James Fenimore Cooper's novel The Pilot: A Tale of the Sea (1824) involves a ship named Ariel. However, in the version available on Archive.org I could not find a passage that matched the quote in the question.

  • Gustave Le Rouge's Le Mystérieux Docteur Cornélius (1912-1913) involves a yacht named "Ariel". Example quote from the 11th episode:

    C’est pour atteindre ce but que j’ai fait construire dans le plus grand secret ce yacht, l’Ariel, à bord du- quel nous nous trouvons. Il est monté par quatre-vingts hom- mes d’équipage et formidablement armé.

    Unfortunately, I have not been able to find a passage that matches the quote in the question.

Since it is relatively easy to find works of fiction featuring a vessel named "Ariel", it is not necessary to assume that the allusion is to Shakespeare's The Tempest.


Hmm. In "The Tempest", Ariel is a spirit or a fairy. But in this quote, Ariel appears to be a ship. I haven't searched the text of "The Tempest" but I don't think it's a direct quote from that play, even if we assume possibly mangled in translation. It's possible that the use of the name Ariel is a literary allusion, but it's not like the only place this name is ever used is in that place, and the rest of the quote doesn't bear any obvious relationship to "The Tempest".

In short I'd say "maybe" but it's not clear.

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