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Gil Blas, Volume I by Alain René Le Sage
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Gil Blas, Volume I

by Alain René Lesage

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201515,329 (5)None

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Fast paced, very funny and successfully operating on multiple levels AT THE SAME TIME.

The novel concerns one Gil Blas, who sets out to display his slack-jawed idiocy to the world. As just one example of what I mean by multiple levels, early on (I don't think I'm giving away too much here) he is captured by bandits, imprisoned and forced into servitude. He effects his escape by robbing a member of the clergy and is consequently plunged into a series of adventures where he is alternately imprisoned or in servitude. So you have an interesting story, a moral and character development. Also, by placing Gil Blas at the bottom of society, Le Sage can aim his satire squarely at the ruling classes.

This is an episodic novel. I like an episodic novel but I'm prepared to admit that the main problem with them is that they are, well, episodic. But here there's a smooth richness to the segues that really adds something. And the whole undertaking is elevated by recurring themes and characters and a mirroring of incident from one episode to another.

Just a word on this edition, the Everyman. It's Malkin's revision of Smollett's translation. I had a quick look at Smottlett's and Malkin appears to follow him structurally clause by clause, but often using different words, near synonyms etc. I suppose it was an updating at the time, but now both are old-fashioned. But don't let that put you off. It's well written and the style fits the nature of the story. There are no notes in the Everyman and there are a number of references which I couldn't understand specifically though they're usually clear from the context. Le Sage categorically denies that the characters who are objects of his satire are based on real people. Frankly, I don't believe him. I suspect that a scholarly edition would identify those individuals. That's the only place where I really missed having notes. ( )
  Lukerik | Mar 30, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lesage, Alain Renéprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Faguet, ÉmileIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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