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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

21 of 1001 Books: Guy de Maupassant's Bel Ami

Bel Ami was the book I picked up next on the 1001 list. I'm not sure why I was drawn to reading this one next, but it turned out to be an unexpected intriguing read. The story centers around an unlikable cast of characters and shows the depth of human depravity. In a way Breaking Bad reminds me of the same sentiments. Anyways, the story shows how far one many will go to get what he wants, and also enjoy the attention on the way there.

Summary: Georges Duroy has been in the military in Algeria, and now is back in France after his deployment. Starting out as a poor ex-military, he's looking to garner power and money in the society. He meets with a former comrade, Forestier, who helps him become a journalist for minor news. Madeleine, helps Duroy with his articles. She is also Forestier's wife. They grow closer as he advances as the paper, until he is advanced to chief editor. Even though he has grown close to her, he also has several other women he is interested in, and Duroy isn't looking for any single commitment.

There have been several versions of Bel Ami adapted to screenplays. Including a movie starring Robert Pattinson, which I'm curious to see as Pattinson seems suiting to the lead character. Actually, the cast of that movie looks good. The other was a television movie.

Back to the story though. The story takes place in France, and for me this added to the intrigue, especially since the culture there, especially in the late 1800s, seems drastically different than American culture and standards. The book was written in 1885 and set in Paris. There are lots of affairs and sex. Not only that, but the novel sets deeper motives than love and lust for the advances.

I was hoping Duroy would get his, but as the world works, so does this novel. Everyone else was justifiably as bad as him, so it may take the sting of his out of his taking advantage of these women's power accordingly. Instead well he goes and does what he need to to keep going.

The story is provocative, and there is something alluring about the characters in the story. Even though they are unlikable, they don't ever seem to be intended to make us like them. Instead of just feels like the lower bottom of the branch of humanity has been brought up in this story to show how far people will and go betray others for what they want.

Don't worry though, you won't walk away from this story as depressed as it seems, but it will be on your mind still. It's one of the better classics, particularly from before the 1900s I've read, so I take that as a positive and a hope for future readings from this era.

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