Guy de Maupassant, Margaret Mauldon, Robert Lethbridge
‘His rise testifies to the decline of a whole society.’ Jean-Paul Sartre
Maupassant’s second novel, Bel-Ami (1885) is the story of a ruthlessly ambitious young man (Georges Duroy, christened ‘Bel-Ami’ by his female admirers) making it to the top in fin-de-siecle Paris. It is a novel about money, sex, and power, set against the background of the politics of the French colonization of North Africa. It explores the dynamics of an urban society uncomfortably close to our own and is a devastating satire of the sleaziness of contemporary
Bel-Ami enjoys the status of an authentic record of the apotheosis of bourgeois capitalism under the Third Republic. But the creative tension between its analysis of modern behaviour and its identifiably late nineteenth-century fabric is one of the reasons why Bel-Ami remains one of the finest French novels of its time, as well as being recognized as Maupassant’s greatest achievement as a novelist.
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'...anyone proposing to study Bel-Ami in depth would do well to acquire the Oxford translation,given its excellent critical apparatus 'well-packaged and affordable' * MLR, 97.3 * Bel-Ami . . .deserves a superior place in the canon . . .This book is as piquant as any contemporary satire. Don't take my word for it. Read it yourself. * Commentary, new Statesman, 04/06/01 *
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