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The phrase "beau geste" (pronounced [bo ʒɛst]) is from the French, meaning "a gracious (or fine) gesture". However, several references in the novel allude to the fact that the name can be taken to mean 'joke', or 'humorous remark' suggest that it is pronounced like English 'jest'.
In French, the phrase includes the suggestion of a fine gesture with unwelcome or futile consequences, and an allusion to the chanson de geste, a literary poem celebrating the legendary deeds of a hero.
Beau geste is a phrase borrowed from French; the literal translation is "beautiful gesture." Beau Geste is also the title of a 1924 novel by Percival Christopher Wren, featuring three English brothers who join the French Foreign Legion to repair their family honor. The novel spawned several film versions, including one starring Gary Cooper. Wren didn't invent the phrase "beau geste," which began to appear around the beginning of the 20th century, but the publicity surrounding the novel and subsequent films likely contributed to the expression's popularity.
What remains to be seen, even as the hair on the back of our necks involuntarily raises when we hear the coywolf howl, is whether New Englanders can appreciate and adapt to living with our new neighbor. To do so would be a beautiful gesture. 59ce067264