Concert Reviews | CD Reviews | DVD Reviews | Opera | Early Music | News | Film | Art | Books | Kids

16.6.12

À mon chevet: 'Bel-Ami'

À mon chevet is a series of posts featuring a quote from whatever book is on my nightstand at the moment.

book cover
The inspiration and true editors of La Vie Française were a half-dozen deputies interested in all the speculations that moved or sustained the director. In the newsroom they were called "Walter's Band," and they were envied because they were supposed to earn money with him and through him. Forestier, the political editor, was only the straw man of these business men, the one who executed the plans suggested by them. They whispered important articles to him, that he was going to write on his own to be at peace, he used to say. But, in order to give the newspaper a literary and Parisian sheen, they had attached to it two famous writers in different genres: Jacques Rival, a chronicler of news, and Norbert de Varenne, a poet and fantastical writer, or rather story-teller, following the new school. Then they had acquired, at bargain prices, critics of art, painting, music, theater, a crime editor, and a horse-racing editor, among the mercenary gang of do-everything writers. Two worldly women, "Pink Domino" and "White Paw," sent in worldly bits, on questions of fashion, elegant living, etiquette, savoir-vivre, and put to paper indiscretions about great ladies. And La Vie Française "navigated on the deep and even deeper," guided by all these different hands. [emphasis mine]

-- Guy de Maupassant, Bel-Ami, pp. 154-55 (my translation)
Has so much really changed about how a newspaper is run since the time of Guy de Maupassant? The recent film adaptation of this excellent novel, reviewed last week, left out far too much of Maupassant's narrative, including the vivid monologue by Norbert de Varenne, spoken to Duroy as they walk to his home from a dinner party, about the agony of old age, no longer ascending the mountain as young men but passing the summit and descending the other side toward death, as well as a vivid portrayal of a somewhat ridiculous but terrifying duel that Duroy fights with a journalist from another newspaper who has accused him of lying. The film may not have been that good, but I thank those who made it for getting me started on a Maupassant kick this summer.

No comments: