Friday, 23 May 2008

Book of the Week - Les Chouans

I think that this is my favourite book - a quite beautiful story, told in exquisite detail.

"I don't think, gentlemen, that you will refuse a glass of wine to a man about to set out on his last march," he said, with a wry smile.

It was just then, when the company had relaxed at these words, spoken with a very French insouciance which must have pleased the Vendeans, that Montauran came in, and his pale face and fixed eyes cast a chill over all the guests.

"You're going to see the dead man prepare the living for action," the Captain said.

"Ah," said the Marquis, appearing to come to himself with a start, "so here you are, my dear war-council!"

He held up a bottle of Graves to the Captain, as if about to pour him a glass.

"Oh, much obliged, Citizen Marquis. It might drown my sorrows, you see."

At this quip Madame du Gua said, smiling round the table, "Come, let us spare him the dessert."

"You are very cruel in the vengeance you demand, Madame," the Captain answered. "You forget my murdered friend who is waiting for me; and I do not fail to keep my appointments."

"Captain, you are free!" said the Marquis then, throwing him his glove, "Take this for safe-conduct. The Chasseurs du Roi know that one must not kill all the quarry in the forest."

"All right, I'll take my life," answered Merle. "But you are making a mistake. I'll play a wary game against you, I promise you. You'll get no quarter from me. You may be very clever but you're not a match for Gerard. Your head can never make up to me for this, but I must have it, and have it I shall."

"He was in a great hurry, however," returned the Marquis.

"Good-bye! I might drink with my executioners, but I don't stay with my friend's assassins," said the Captain, departing and leaving the company disconcerted.

"Well, gentlemen, what do you think of the magistrates, surgeons and lawyers who are in charge of the Republic's affairs?" the Gars asked coldly.

"Upon my soul, Marquis," replied the Comte de Bauvan, "they're very ill-bred, at any rate. That man, I believe, has insulted us."


Stephany said...

I'm going to attempt to find this at the library, read it and give a thoughtful comment! I love the book of the week, and the music too, to hell with the other stuff LOL

Radagast said...

Do. Balzac doesn't seem to get the same sort of press as other french novellists/poets of his time - Hugo, say, or Flaubert - but the quality of his writing is there for all to see. "Pere Goriot" is another of his that you might pick up, too.