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Wife of Martin Guerre

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Overview

One morning in January, 1539, a wedding was celebrated in the village of Artigues. That night the two children who had been espoused to one another lay in bed in the house of the groom's father. They were Bertrande de Rols, aged eleven years, and Martin Guerre, who was no older, both offspring of rich peasant families as ancient, as feudal and as proud as any of the great seignorial houses of Gascony.
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The Wife of Martin Guerre

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Overview

One morning in January, 1539, a wedding was celebrated in the village of Artigues. That night the two children who had been espoused to one another lay in bed in the house of the groom's father. They were Bertrande de Rols, aged eleven years, and Martin Guerre, who was no older, both offspring of rich peasant families as ancient, as feudal and as proud as any of the great seignorial houses of Gascony.
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Editorial Reviews

Dana Gioia
A forgotten masterpiece, often plagiarized, but never equaled.
The Hungry Mind Review
From the Publisher

The Wife of Martin Guerre by Janet Lewis is one of the most resonant short novels I can remember. I greatly like two other books she wrote: The Trial of Soren Qvist and The Ghost of Monsieur Scarron. She never got the attention she deserved."

— Evan S. Connell, Jr.

“One of the last century’s great novels.”

— A Commonplace Blog

“When the literary history of the second millennium is written at the end of the third, in the category of dazzling American short fiction (Janet Lewis’s) Wife of Martin Guerre will be regarded as the 20th century's Billy Budd and Janet Lewis will be ranked with Herman Melville.”

The New York Times

“Flaubertian in the elegance of its form and the gravity of its style.”

The New Yorker

“A masterpiece…a short novel that can run with Billy Budd, The Spoils of Poynton, Seize the Day, or any other.”

— Larry McMurtry, The New York Review of Books

“Janet Lewis brings the haunting qualities of fable to this novella, based on a legal case that attracted wide attention in 16th-century France and has continued to fascinate down through the years.”

— Ron Hansen, The Wall Street Journal

“One of the most significant short novels in English.”

Atlantic Monthly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780804003216
  • Publisher: Ohio University Press
  • Publication date: 7/1/1967
  • Pages: 109
  • Sales rank: 1,454,963
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author


Janet Lewis was a novelist, poet, and short-story writer whose literary career spanned almost the entire twentieth century. The New York Times has praised her novels as “some of the 20th century’s most vividly imagined and finely wrought literature.”

Born and educated in Chicago, she lived in California for most of her adult life and taught at both Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley. Her works include The Wife of Martin Guerre (1941), The Trial of Sören Qvist (1947), The Ghost of Monsieur Scarron (1959), Good-Bye, Son and Other Stories (1946), and Poems Old and New (1982).

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2005

    Historical fiction provokes discussion of themes of justice and ethics

    This retelling of an actual 12th century French court case was made into a well respected movie. A book group reading of it offered one of the best discusssions in the 20+ years of book group selctions. It ranks with the Nobel winning Saramagu's book 'Blindness' for a timeless story of personal and societal conflict. The conflict between truth, brutality, justice, gender, fidelity is not easily settled. The discussion that results is deep and endless.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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