Classic: G. de Maupassant
- Author: G. de Maupassant
- Title: Une Vie
- Published: 1883 ( first novel)
- Language: French
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- There is more to this book than meets the eye.
- Maupassant did not want to just tell a story.
- He wanted us to understand the meaning behind events.
- This was an eye-opener for me.
- How often do I read a story and say I liked it or not.
- I learned in this book to look at the structure..it has a hidden meaning.
- I noticed if Jeanne (MC) traveled…where to? …and how it changed her.
- In the first line we read ‘she packed her bags’
- …this reveals she is moving.
- “Jeanne, ayant fini ses malles…”
- Jeanne is in transition…from life during a convent education.
- to new places
- She travels 4 times.
- How did each voyage change her?
Themes: Love, marriage, motherhood, adultery, ruthless ambition
- What was Maupassant’s message in this book?
- Marriage is a trap!
- The decline of the ‘noblesse’ class who are incapable to adapt to the times
- The provincial morals and values Normandy in the 19th C
- The power of the Catholic Church and its prelates on the social order.
- Marriage: woman has the duty to be a good wife and mother
- …in exchange for losing any control over one’s life!
Look closely at the structure:
- Part 1 is filled with unbridled happiness.
- This is done to contrast the depths of
- Jeanne’s disillusionment in part 2… at the end of her life.
Look for a minor character:
- Tante Lison:
- There are many characters in the book
- …but I singled out one that touched my heart.
- No one noticed her, cared about her
- …she was ‘object familier, un meuble viviant.’
- Her nonexistence her isolation is obvious in the book
- ….but Maupassant put her in the spotlight!
- She is in every important scene even
- …as reader I had the tendency to just pass her by!
- preparing trousseau for Jeanne’s wedding
- is the only guest invited to Jeanne’s wedding
- godmother to Jeanne’s son Paul
- discovers Julien’s infidelity
- cares for Paul’s religious education
- attends family funerals and
- ….steps in as second mother to Jeanne.
- I liked the descriptions of nature especially the coast of Normandy.
- Fishermen, their families, job, boats, beaches and cliffs.
- You can just smell the salt in the air of
- his beloved homeland, Etretat, France
- La mer – Jeanne’s strong feelings for the coast of Nomandy.
- The sea represents the infinite that stretches out before Jeanne
- and the many possibilities Une Vie has to offer her.
- La pluie – represents melancholy.
- Le soleil – represents joy
- Mausassant uses the changes in
- …seasons and nature to reflect Jeanne’s moods.
- The main character, Jeanne, is based on
- …Maupassant’s mother, Laure le Poittevin.
- She was a victim on an uphappy marriage and submitted
- herself to an adulterous and violent husband.
- Laure made a strong move…supported by her friend G. Flaubert
- and left her husband which was unusual in the 19th C.
- She concentrated all her attention on her son, Guy.
- As you read the book you can see the similarities
- between Laure and Jeanne.
- I enjoyed this book after I gave it time to settle in my mind.
- Maupassants’s Bel-Ami is his most polished novel.
- Both books are #Classics!