Guy de Maupassant is revered for his naturalistic fiction, which brilliantly captures flesh-and-blood characters as it evokes the most telling details of everyday life. Considered one of the finest French novels ever written, Bel Ami follows journalist Georges Duroy and his increasing stature among the Paris elite. With an immense thirst for power, Georges is not above an almost gleeful use of wealthy mistresses to achieve his ends.
©2001 Margaret Mauldon (P)2011 Recorded Books, LLC
Classics,contemporary fiction, Politics, Philosophy, Economics - a weekly eye on The New Yorker & The Guardian and dense word style/play.
I really enjoyed this one over the course of a week in Tenerife and undertook it with the intention of pairing it with the new film version of the novel which doesn’t subsequently seem to have hit the cinemas with anything like the impact that I thought it would have. It has been a good many years since I read the series of Normandy short stories by Maupassant, but it is nice to report that the writing still is as open and accessible as I previously recalled and the narrative was as engaging as I would have anticipated.
For all the recent comment on how contemporary the subject-matter, this story of Paris is dated in the detail but ‘very modern’ in the pre-occupations - which just goes to illustrate that life in all its complexities doesn’t suffer time or national changes.
As always, the perfect way to escape the day to day grind into a new world for the holiday week - really enjoyed.
I loved listening to this book. It is so beautifully written, so evocative, the characters flawed and real.
The narrator is excellent, perfect for this piece. I would definitely recommend Bel Ami.
A North American translation and North American accent are barriers to accessing Maupassant's novel. In addition, French pronunciation is lamentable - remember when you think you're in Caen you're really in Cannes and 'Jock' Rival is really a Frenchman called Jacques......On the plus side John McDonough reads expressively and intelligently at a sensible pace.
"Bel Ami or how to socially climb in 1885 Paris"
Bel Ami starts as a penniless returned soldier and by the end of the book after affairs and marriages he is one of the most powerful men in Paris if not France. He tramples on all he meets, money and position become everything and his sexual gratification is the cherry on the top.
The women in the story seem to be strong but really are weak and bend to his every whim and it shows that the story is basically a story of human desire, weakness and determination. Maupassant was well know for his excellent characterisation and in Bel Ami the characters are brilliantly portrayed.
Listening to my favourite Maupassant has really stimulated my hunger for more French literature which I have read extensively in my 30s. However, having it read to me gives it a whole extra layer of richness and complexity (and correct pronounciation of the French names and places!).
This book is highly recommended - listen to it before you see the film. The movie has been given a bad review but if you go in knowing the story and the main characters you might get more from it. Certainly you will go in understanding better the times and morals and be less judgemental. I hope to see the movie myself shortly. Standby - I might add to this review after I have seen it!
"Thought-provoking commentary on the human conditio"
Typical Maupassant story of a young man developing his character during an earlier era.. A social commentary on the mores of the times with a fascinating narrative of a young man finding his way in the world when marital fidelity amongst the upper classes was accepted.
"Scary to think people like Bel Ami actually exist!"
I listened and listened and kept hoping one of the characters -- any of the characters -- would give Georges Duroy a good thrashing!
If this story is any indication, Guy de Maupassant doesn't have a good opinion of women. Is there nothing he can do that would make them dump him?! Only one woman in this story had any self-respect, and even she gave in to him!
In any case, while this was written in 1885, I could see the exact same story being written about people today.
And that is scary!
This book is extremely well written. I don't understand that it's not more popular and how it didn't find its way to compulsory school literature.
Maupassant is a master story teller. Much more so than many other, far more famous, classic authors.
I was absolutely delighted by this read.
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