Alien Hearts

Alien Hearts ha the nex book that Guy de Maupassant finished before his death aged just forty-three. It is he most original and psychologically penetrating of his other novels, and another one in which he attains a truly tragic perception of the wounded human heart. André Mariolle is a rich, handsome, gifted young man who can not settle on what to do with himself. Madame de Burne, a glacially dazzling beauty, wants Mariolle to attend her exclusive salon for artists, omposers, writers, and other intellectuals. At first Mariolle keeps his distance, but once he hits on the solution to all his problems: caring for nothing in particular, he will devote himself to being in love; Madame de Burne will be his everything. Soon lover and beloved are equally lost within a hall of mirrors of their common devising.

Richard Howard ’ s new English translation of this complex and brooding novel—the first in more than a hundred years—reveals the final, unexpected flowering of a great French realist ’ s art.
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Published December 1st 2009 by NYRB Classics (first published May 1890

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Lastly, he tears into the minds of his protagonist, lays them bare with masterful ability and leaves them in tatters for the reader to piece back together.

He even lays into his own art: " And when there 's no love left in books ... there 's no love in life.

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Maupassant gets down to business straight away as the irst sentence describes the situation: A day came when Massival- the musician, the famous composer of Rebecca, the an who for at least ifteen years had been called " our distinguished young maestro "- asked his friend André Mariolle, " Why the devil have n't I ever seen you at Michèle de Burne 's?

His friends warn him that he will fall in love with her just like everyone else.And what of de Burne?

She is certain that Mariolle has fallen for her, she tells the signs, and is just waiting for Mariolle to act: Yet her heart did not thirst for emotions like the hearts of sentimental women; she was not searching for th man 's unique love nor for the gratification of a passion.

So I as a bit wary of this ovel as I progressed as it was following a well-worn path of nineteenth century literature; so Mariolle falls completely for de Burne and thinks of her all thi time, they arrange to meet clandestinely and eventually Mariolle sets up a love nest where they can meet in private.

This book, as well as Mariolle 's character, comes alive when their relationship egins to falter, partly because both characters start to analyse their own houghts and eelings as well as the other 's.

In their discussions Mariolle accuses de Burne of not loving him because all the passion of the relationship comes from him: Realizing how far apart they were, Mariolle murmured, " What a trange way to think about love- and to talk about it!

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" You 're breaking my heart, " the wealthy, handsome Andre, now hopelessly smitten, tells the object of his esire, Michele, who think: " Is that all? " Thus begins an astonishing novel about Love -- ( one of he few ever written, as opposed to lust, sex, and eve on).

he French take " love " very seriously, whereas " sex " is just a need, not unlike taking a bath or going to the wc.

She has her rules for sex and knows everythin about Love.Love is not meeting on schedule, insists Michele, speaking for Maupassant.

Please, continues Maupassant: " Who can ay a person loves well or badly, a lot or a little.

( Today, we know that word as easily, casually as Have a nice day) ... Because Maupassant analyses the layers, complexities, the variables of Love in a 200-page novel, my edition, some readers ( especially American) just dont " get it. " There are no pulsating thrusts, secretions, insertions; no bondaging or fierce bitings.

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It is n't often I 'd say an author misrenders his own character, but I had that sense this time, because there was obviously another way to nterpret her attitudes, less hostile towards her than Maupassant gives room to.

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Apparently, I never engaged with these characters, nor ould I enter their world.

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© Nicole Waggonner