Pierre et Jean
Pierre and Jean
Guy de Maupassant
Around 150 pages
We have reached the final Maupassant novel on the List! Usually his novels detail how a man systematically ruins a woman's life by exploiting her emotions. This one is a tad different, although don't worry, a woman is still psychologically tormented by her son. Anyway, this was my favorite so far.
Pierre and Jean have a somewhat healthy sibling rivalry. Pierre, the eldest, is studying to be a doctor. His brother Jean is studying to be a lawyer and both of them are battling to win the affections of a pretty widow. One day, the brothers learn that a friend of a family died, leaving all his money to Jean. While Jean takes advantage of his newfound wealth, Pierre, spurred on by jealousy, investigates why Jean was the only happy recipient. His discoveries could lead to a scandal, or worse, the dissolution of all family bonds.
I really don't think this author likes women. That, of course, doesn't make him a bad novelist, but I do wish he could create a female character that doesn't suffer from "hysterics." That being said, the main women-hater in this novel could hardly be considered a good guy, so it could be worse.
I thought this was a very intriguing concept for a story. Pierre's motivations in particular are fascinating. Is he behaving strictly out of jealousy? Or because of his creepy Oedipus complex? Or is he just frightened by how his family will be perceived by the public? I like that Maupassant doesn't try to simplify this for us. All too often, novelists attempt to assign their characters' a flaw and strength apiece, when in reality, our motivations are much more complex than that.
FINAL RANKING OF MAUPASSANT:
1. Pierre et Jean
3. Une Vie
Maupassant's shortest novel.
UP NEXT: The Master of Ballantrae by Robert Louis Stevenson. I have already read this one but I will probably hold off on publishing for awhile so the postings are less sporadic.