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The Reds of the Midi by Félix Gras
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The Reds of the Midi

by Félix Gras

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A novel of the French Revolution written to mark its centenary, originally in Provençal by someone who comes across as a rabid Republican. There are passages of invective where you can almost see him foam at the mouth. It is also full of late 19th century chauvinism and racism, most vividly expressed in his loathing for the Northern French and especially the Parisians who are bastardised mongrels in his eyes who have stolen and perverted the cause of the Revolution.
The characters are painted accordingly in black and white only. His heroine Adeline is unbelievably saintly and suffering and seeks refuge in a convent from the persecutions of the arch villain. There is a strange contradiction between his fervent republicanism and his attitude towards the church: the villain is the bastard of a nun and a priest and walks off with the title and the fortunes of the count whom he murdered; the upper echelons of the church all side with the Royalists but turn coat whenever the need arises, yet there's also a humble, saintly village priest who welcomes the Revolution and justifies the killing of the king and the aristocrats as a judgment of God. Yet he refuses to denounce the arch villain and goes to his death willingly. The main characters all suffer in this submissive way, like martyrs, and the whole book feels like a saint's legend. ( )
  MissWatson | May 18, 2018 |
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