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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Bel Ami by Guy de Maupassant

Robert Pattinson as George Duroy in the 2012 adaption of Bel Ami, Guy de Maupassant's 1885 novel of Bright Lights and the Big City.

Book Review
Bel Ami
by Guy de Maupassante
p. 1885

 If Bel Ami was a Lifetime movie it would be called "Confessions of a Gigolo," because that is what Bel Ami is all about.  The title of Bel Ami is derived from one of the pet names given to the main character, Georges Duroy, who is a charming journalist who gets all the ladies, because I guess journalists were cool in Paris in the 1880s.  Can you imagine a character like that today?  It's laughable.

The idea that Uma Thurman is the right age to play Madeline Forestier in Bel Ami is, to put it mildly, risible.

 Amazingly, Bel Ami was made into a film just last year and it allegedly starred Robert Pattinson, Uma Thurman and Kristin Scott Thomas.  How did I miss that in the theater?  I don't believe that movie actually exists.

 It's interesting that the last three books in order: Against the Grain, Marius the Epicurean and Bel Ami have all moved away from the standard marriage/inheritance plot of the English Victorian novel.  When you include contemporary writers like Zola and the Russians, it is clear that the mid 1880s are a far different scene for literature than the 1870s- a decade of transition, if you will.  Even the marriage plot novels- Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady, have a knowing and self aware feel.

  But of course now I get three Thomas Hardy novels in a row.  That guy must have never stopped writing.

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