Lovers

Overview

Sébastien is fifteen years old and already versed in the medicinal arts when he meets the young nobleman Balthazar de Créon, whose life he saves after the latter is thrown from a horse. De Créon, struck by the boy’s beauty as much by his talents as a healer, orders Sébastien to his manor some months later so he can instruct him in the ways of the court, hoping thus to install him as Louis XV’s surgeon. His motives, however, are clouded by his lust for Sébastien, and after a brief period of restraint Balthazar and...

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Lovers

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Overview

Sébastien is fifteen years old and already versed in the medicinal arts when he meets the young nobleman Balthazar de Créon, whose life he saves after the latter is thrown from a horse. De Créon, struck by the boy’s beauty as much by his talents as a healer, orders Sébastien to his manor some months later so he can instruct him in the ways of the court, hoping thus to install him as Louis XV’s surgeon. His motives, however, are clouded by his lust for Sébastien, and after a brief period of restraint Balthazar and Sébastien loose both their passion and their imaginations. But it is 1749 and their affair scandalizes the French court, bringing the king’s wrath down upon them. Balthazar is eventually presented with an ultimatum: repudiate Sébastien and live, or do not, and die.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Gay love and sacrificial death in pre-revolutionary France; a minimalist offering from the French author (The Land of Darkness, 2001, etc.). Sébastien is a 15-year-old goatherd. Balthazar is a Prince, a courtier at Versailles. He is riding in the country with friends when his horse throws him. He appears unconscious. Sébastien, who has inherited his mother's herbal knowledge, revives him with plant dust, murmuring "I am yours." Attraction; initiation; union; separation. This will be the arc of their experience. The illiterate peasant and the worldly nobleman are both virgins, but they know their destiny. One year later, 1750, Balthazar returns, pacifies the father with gold crowns, removes Sébastien to his chateau and installs him in a chalet. His widowed mother, the Princess Anne, is forced to accept the situation. The men become lovers (no details). Versailles seethes with malicious gossip. They say Balthazar is a sodomite, a rebel, an alchemist. Arsand has taken the novel of transgressive love and distilled it into a hundred short takes. Images of heedless love and societal oppression substitute for character complexity and development. The Prince has an early vision of them burning to death together. He seals his fate when he refuses the King's summons to appear at court. Sébastien, excited by rough trade in taverns, has been unfaithful to him, but their love endures. The Prince is taken by force from the chateau. In a last bid to save her son, Anne organizes a ball; nobody shows. Balthazar is tried and burnt at the stake. From beyond the grave, he prompts Sébastien to cause his own fiery death, but not before his lover has become embroiled in a new liaison with a married man. The ensuing soap opera exemplifies Arsand's love of snapshots (a jealous spouse, an ax murder), but is a distraction from the main storyline. The momentous content doesn't quite fit in this straitjacket form.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781609450717
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 5/29/2012
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 663,989
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Daniel Arsand was born in Avignon in 1950 and currently works as an editor with Éditions Phébus in Paris. He is the author of several novels, including The Land of Darkness, winner of the Prix Femina for First Fiction, and In Silence, winner of the Jean Giono Second Novel Grand Prix.

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