Paul and Virginia

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Overview

First published in 1788, this is the classic of naive love that inspired the film The Blue Lagoon.

 

Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre's only novel is a classic of naïve love. First published in 1788 to wide acclaim, it subsequently appeared in hundreds of editions throughout the world and influenced a generation of French writers, from George Sand and Lamartine to Balzac and Flaubert. In modern times it has inspired major musicals, artworks, a hit song by Celine Dion, and even a chain of luxury hotels on Mauritius. Bernardin was inspired by his friend Rousseau to tell the story of two children who grow up entirely according to nature's laws on an idyllic island free from the corrupting influence of the world. They reach adolescence and fall in love, but tragedy strikes and both die untimely deaths. A key text in the development of the novel, this is a must for anyone interested in the history of European literature.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Naturalist Bernardin de Saint-Pierre (1737-1814), a disciple of Rousseau, led a hardscrabble life until he published his one novel, Paul et Virginie, in 1788. The book catapulted him into wealth and fame, speeding through dozens of editions on its way to touchstone status for 19th-century lovers of sentimental tales-Flaubert used it as the exemplum of the pulp fiction that cheapened Madame Bovary's young mind. The plot (which also inspired Blue Lagoon) is this: Paul's mother and Virginie's mother, unmarried pregnant strangers when they meet on the tropical French outpost of Mauritius, become bosom friends in adversity. When their children are born, they and their two slaves (who conveniently marry each other), start up a farm on the island. The children are handsome, illiterate, casual about nudity, innocent of the slave labor that sustains them, and close as brother and sister until, inevitably, sexual and romantic feelings begin to muddy the crystal blue waters of their affection. Then Virginie's imperious, aristocratic aunt back in France demands her services, and she must part from Paul for the very first time. The second half of the story (told here in Donovan's elegant 1982 translation) has traditionally been read through a mist of tears. (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780720612318
  • Publisher: Owen, Peter Limited
  • Publication date: 11/18/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 144
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre was born in Le Havre in 1737. In 1792 he was made superintendent of the Royal Botanical Gardens and later became professor of moral science at the Ecole Normale Supérieure. By the time of his death in 1815, he was president of the French Academy.

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