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A Woman's Life (Classics) by Guy de…

A Woman's Life (Classics) (original 1883; edition 1977)

by Guy de Maupassant, H.N.P. Sloman (Translator)

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896129,849 (3.76)1 / 36
Title:A Woman's Life (Classics)
Authors:Guy de Maupassant
Other authors:H.N.P. Sloman (Translator)
Info:Penguin Books Ltd (1977), Edition: New Ed, Paperback, 208 pages
Collections:Your library

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A Woman's Life by Guy de Maupassant (1883)



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English (6)  French (3)  Spanish (1)  Italian (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (12)
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Jeanne leads a very sheltered life, growing up with wealth and going to a convent school. She meets and marries Julien, a cruel and unscrupulous man who marries her for her money. After discovering Julien's unfaithfulness, as well as evidence of her parents' extra-marital affairs, Jeanne gradually falls into a deep depression.

I loved the writing of this story. The characters were rich and believable - although not likeable. I found it very interesting how Jeanne completely fell apart. Although I tried not to compare her to women in the present, she was helpless and overall not a good role model. I am curious if de Maupassant was making a commentary about women in general, or perhaps the upper classes. Very few strong characters and Jeanne and her family seemed kind, but very incompetent. Surprisingly easy to read. ( )
  jmoncton | Jun 3, 2013 |
In 1819 a 17-year-old girl named Jeanne eagerly awaits her departure from the convent where she has been educated for the last five years. Her father, the Baron Le Perthuis de Vauds, has kept his beloved only child in peaceful and virginal seclusion as part of his plan to keep Jeanne innocent of the sins and cares of the world. He is now taking her to the family's estate on the Norman coast which is destined to be her home as soon as she marries.

Life on the coast of Normandy with her idle and free-spending parents continues to be a fairy tale dream for Jeanne. Almost on cue, she is introduced to a dashing young man, the Vicomte Julien de Lamare. After a story-book courtship, the two are married and and installed as master and mistress of the estate. But on Jeanne's wedding night, the fairy tale comes to an end. She is as innocent as possible of conjugal matters, and is shocked into tears at what Julien does to her. It is rather shocking for readers as well that the author of this heretofore chaste and idyllic tale takes us, not only into the bedroom, but between the sheets.

Jeanne eventually overcomes her sexual inhibitions, but also realizes "that there was nothing left for her to do, ever. Her whole childhood at the convent had been taken up with the future, and she had busied herself with fantasies." Her focus had always been on becoming, not on being, and once the honeymoon was over "...there was nothing left to do, today, tomorrow, ever again. And she sensed all this in some way as a kind of disillusion, as the collapse of her dreams."

But much more disillusionment is in store for Jeanne. Those whom she has idolized and idealized begin, one by one, to disappoint her. Her fairy-tale pure world begins to crumble, and she comes to rage and despair "at the cravenness of human beings, slaves to the foul procedures of carnal love that makes cowards of the heart as well as the body. Mankind seemed to her unclean when she thought of all the dirty secrets of the senses, the degrading caresses, and the dimly discerned mysteries of inseparable couplings." Religion ceases to be a consolation when even the parish priest nonchalantly advises her to accept the infidelities she sees around her with a "boys will be boys" attitude. In response, Jeanne "cursed God, whom she hitherto had considered just. She railed against the culpable favouritism of destiny, and the criminal lies of those who preach goodness and the straight path of virtue."

A Life is a very insular story, as the focus stays on Jeanne in her relative seclusion in rural Normandy. Almost thirty years of tumultuous French history go by without notice, even while the passage of the seasons of nature are closely followed. While many might view Jeanne as representative of the idle aristocracy living in its world of self-delusion, there is no overt social agenda to the novel. Nonetheless, one can't help but notice that the lower classes all seem to have happier, healthier and more balanced lives than the gentry who themselves serve no useful role in society. And when Jeanne is sunk deep in self-pity, her maid does finally lose her temper and exclaim: "And what would you say if you had to earn your daily bread, if you had to get up as six o'clock every morning and go and do a full day's work! Yet lots of women have to, and when they get too old, they die of poverty."

A Life was Maupassant's first novel. He started it when he was only 27, but took several years to complete and refine it. When it came out in 1883 it was an immediate and controversial bestseller and established Maupassant as a worthy compatriot of Flaubert and Zola. Though it's a bit uneven at times and circumscribed by the narrow horizons of Jeanne's little world, it is a captivating story, briskly told, and full of beautiful descriptions of the Norman landscape and people. ( )
6 vote StevenTX | Mar 31, 2013 |
*ETA some more thoughts on the book.
Despite the sadness of this book I liked it a lot. It is a tragic story of how a woman's life runs from childish hopes and dreams of eternal romantic love through disappointments in married life to being disappointed by her only child.
The main character, Jeanne, is very naive and inexperienced, coming from a convent where she received her education and where she spent her time thinking about what life would have in store for her. Romantic love, love, marriage, children, it all passed her thoughts and now she was 'set free', she felt more than ready to experience all she had until then only been thinking about.
When the years of her life pass by, she becomes more and more melancholic and depressed, finding only temporary joy in raising her son. That lasts as long as it comes as a shock to her that he's grown up and decides to go his own way.
The ending of the book gave me the idea of a closing circle, like all could start over again. ( )
  BoekenTrol71 | Mar 31, 2013 |
riconoscerla e goderla
  Cristina_G | Feb 14, 2012 |
Why would anyone want to read a 19th century novel? And, why do good writers bring up the name Guy de Maupassant as an example of a great writer? This book answers both questions. Yes, a quick description of the story – a young, naïve girl marries wrong and tragedies ensue - sounds like fodder for soap operas or romance novels. But it is in the telling of the story and the handling of the characters that de Maupassant’s true writing talent comes through. Our heroine Jeanne could come off as a guileless wimp who we get sick of quickly. Yet, de Maupassant’s talents as a writer manage to bring her off as sympathetic, even though much of her plight is because of her blithe acceptance of what life dishes her. And, even with our jaundiced 21st century views, we can still sympathize with these characters and the burdens they faced because of the roles thrust upon them. ( )
3 vote figre | Apr 6, 2009 |
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» Add other authors (96 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Guy de Maupassantprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Laurie, MarjorieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Picchi, MarioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prins-Willekes Macdonald, I.E.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Jeanne, ayant fini ses malles, s'approcha de la fenêtre, mais la pluie ne cessait pas.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0192832980, Paperback)

'every heart imagines itself the first to thrill to a myriad sensations which once stirred the hearts of the earliest creatures and which will again stir the hearts of the last men and women to walk the earth' What is a life? How shall a storyteller conceive a life? What if art means pattern and life has none? How, then, can any story be true to life? These are some of the questions which inform the first of Maupassant's six novels, A Life (Une Vie) (1883) in which he sought to parody and expose the folly of romantic illusion. An unflinching presentation of a woman's life of failure and disappointments, where fulfilment and happiness might have been expected, A Life recounts Jeanne de Lamare's gradual lapse into a state of disillusion. With its intricate network of parallels and oppositions, A Life reflects the influence of Flaubert in its attention to form and its coherent structure. It also expresses Maupassant's characteristic naturalistic vision in which the satire of bourgeois manners, the representation of the aristocracy in pathological decline, the undermining of human individuality and ideals, and the study of deterioration and disintegration, all play a role. But above all Maupassant brings to his first novel the short story writer's genius for a focused tension between stasis and change, and A Life is one of his most compelling portraits of dispossession and powerlessness.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:41 -0400)

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The vampire owner of Manhattan's hottest dating service, Lil Marchette is given the unwelcome task of finding the perfect woman for Vinnie Balducci, the Brookyn representative for the Snipers of Otherworldly Beings, while dealing with the three gorgeous demon Prince brothers, who are hunting a rogue spirit who has taken up residence in Liz's oblivious assistant, Evie.… (more)

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