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Pierre et Jean
by Guy De Maupassant
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'Monsieur de Maupassant has never before been so clever.' Henry James Henry James's admiration for 'this masterly little novel' has been echoed throughout the twentieth century by readers of Pierre et Jean. It marked a turning-point in the development of French fiction, situated as it is between traditional social realism and the psychological novel. It is recognized as a classic study of filial jealousy, triggered by one of the two brothers of its title finding himself the sole inheritor of the fortune of his mother's former lover. Pierre et Jean is set in Le Havre in the 1880s and is notable for its evocation of the Normandy coastline captured by the Impressionists. But Maupassant's achievement is to have woven from this simple plot in a maritime context a brilliantly crafted exploration of the complexities at the heart of family life.
Text: English, French (translation)
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