Albert Cohen: Belle du Seigneur



From WikiBelle du Seigneur is a 1968 novel by the Swiss writer Albert Cohen Set in Geneva in the 1930s the narrative revolves around a Mediterranean Jew employed by the League of Nations and his romance with a married Swiss aristocrat The novel is the standalone third part in a series of four it follows Solal of the Solals and Nailcruncher and precedes Les ValeureuxSee this review The Independent Vanity made fleshIt s hard to describe this book for those who hasn t read it yet but I do recommend to all fans of the 20th century French fictionA move was made based on this book Belle du Seigneur 2012 with Jonathan Rhys Meyers Natalia Vodianova Ed Stoppard and directed by Glenio Bonder This book should be read young There is lightness air is soft merry seduction I am SolalI imagine Ariane And then there are the 100 last pages I reach there not I read the others uickly but these last pages I do not arrive I slow down The separation appears inevitable It s umbearable It s a form of resistance When the book is finished there is bitterness Does happy love exist You re a married guy You have than one college degree You read voraciously books serious magazine articles newspapers You are one of the highly respected people in your profession Whenever you speak your mind your colleagues listenYou have a wife She barely got passed college She watches TV every time that her favorite soap operas are on She doesn t read books or any of the serious stuffs you read although she browses over fashion magazines every now and thenLike normal couple you argue Sometimes in a friendly manner over breakfast sometimes in a fight And behold after each and every such argument you the supposed intellectual superior lay flattened on the kitchen floor defeated Now satirize that You ll never come up with one as good as that by Albert Cohen s in this novel Here is the beautiful Ariane in an argument with her husband Didi Deume x x x Blithely pursuing her theme she Ariane next dealt with various aspects of her martyr s life After recalling his Didi s crimes against femininity which she had already brought up in previous scenes she then moved on with the reuisite wealth of dates and places to enumerate for the benefit of the poor bewildered male other misdemeanours which he now learned he had committed during the course of their marriage Indefatigable nothing like a limp rag but firing all pistons she strode up and down in her red polka dot acket which left her thighs bare paced feverishly her words warmed by a sacred flame and strengthened too by the exultation of victory while her spouse stunned and left reeling by the power of her avenging elouence could only stand by and watch open mouthed as his unsuspecting sins were clearly marshalled and paraded before himThey constituted a heavy indictment Like the best orators she was sincere for she believed every word she said Stirred by a noble indignation she was utterly convinced of the rightness of her cause It was her greatest strength and admirably sustained by a mixture of aggression and sarcasm it enabled her to crush her much less skilful opponent But she was also clever As skilfully as the ablest of prosecuting counsels she set out her case in blacks and whites which strengthened it immeasurably eliminating anything which might count against her and imparting the reuired twists warps and amplifications to the words and actions of her guilty husband And all her unfairness was spoken in good faith for she was honestHe listened in a daze to her tireless outpouring and he knew that she accused him unjustly with only a semblance of right as always But he also knew that he would never convince her she was wrong that he had neither the talent nor the stamina for it that he was far too wretched to be able to defend himself properly All he could do was to repeat because it was the truth that she was being mean and unfair to which she would respond endlessly and always victoriouslyNo he simply wasn t up to it Her fire power was the greater He laid down his arms and left her without saying a wordIt was true The poor man was Tangled Webs (The Black Jewels, just not up to it Throughout the whole of that terrible montheach time he d tried to stand up to his wife each time he had put a cast iron case to prove that she was in the wrong she had not budged an inch She always got the better of him in any argument because she interrupted and talked him down so that he was left a speechless bystander to watch helpless and hopeless as the various charges in the indictment were wheeled out before him or else because she steamrollered him with unsubstantiated but extremely telling thrusts such as describing his plain honest arguments as a tissue of clever fibs and uibbles or because she sidetracked him and mixed him up or else because she deliberately ignored everything he said and simply went on piling up grievances which because they were incomprehensible were also irrefutableThe best he could manage if he ever succeeded in making her listen to his side of things and got her on the wrong foot was to see her wriggle out of reach by seeking refuge in the tears and sufferings of the helpless ill used wife or by refusing to answer and looking stony faced if he begged her to admit her faults or by resorting to the I don t know what you re talking about tactic a ploy she was capable of repeating indefinitely if he restated his thesis and began once to explain as conscientiously and as clearly as he could exactly in what ways she was to blame This was a bee in the poor man s bonnet he believed in the clarifying power of explanations It would have been far better for him if he d never become a husband for that was his only sin Whenever he attempted this she would let him prattle on without trying to interrupt but then when he had finished and was looking at her with hope in his eyes convinced that this time he d explained things clearly and made her see them from his point of view she would simply stand her ground and again scream that she didn t know what he was talking about couldn t for the life of her see what he was driving atAnd woe betide him if he let himself be goaded by such patent but triumphant pretences woe betide him if he were to bear down on her with fists clenched woe betide him For then she called him a brute a wife beating coward screamed with terror with genuine terror too which was uite diabolical of her and shouted for help and roused the neighbours One night shortly before the Deumes had got backust because he had told her to stop shouting and had raised his arm though he had absolutely no intention of hitting her she had ripped off her pyjama top and run out into the garden stark naked with rage The following night because he had gone so far as to raise hs voice a little and tell her she was mean to him she had paid him back by shrieking that he was a monster a tyrant a torturer by tearing off a piece of the wallpaper then by going downstairs and locking herself in the kitchen where she had stayed put until four in the morning while he trembled with fear at the thought that she might put her head in the gas ovenAnd that was not all for she had other weapons in her armoury which the poor devil. « Solennels parmi les couples sans amour ils dansaient d'eux seuls préoccupés goûtaient l'un à l'autre soigneux profonds perdus Béate d'être tenue et guidée elle ignorait le monde écoutait le bonheur dans ses veines parfois s'admirant dans les hautes glaces des murs élégante émouvante exceptionnelle femme aimée parfois reculant la tête pour mieux le voir ui lui murmurait des.

Knew only too well reprisals for the morning after These included headaches sit down strikes in her room swollen eyes offered as evidence of tears shed in solitude a whole battery of ailments stubborn sulks an embattled loss of appetite fatigue forgetfulness dejected airs the complete fearsome panoply of the helpless but uite invincible femaleOr have you experienced this tagging along with your boss to a party only to find out when you got there that it is a party for big bosses who didn t bring their lowly underlings like you and therefore you are there all alone the only one of your kind and there s no one to talk to except perhaps the waiters who of course wouldn t oblige What does one do in such a situation Cohen s caustic humor in a similar situation had me in stitches No guest talked to Finkelstein a social nothing who was not only no use to man or beast but damningly could not harm a fly He was not dangerous ergo he was not interesting not the sort who called for careful handling not someone you need like or pretend to like Even the four pariahs by their window kept their distance from his degrading low caste presence Ignored by all and having no other Jews to talk to the wretched leper decided that acting like a man in a hurry would enable him to show a bold front and his involvement in the reception consisted of elbowing his way firmly through the chattering mob at regular intervals Head lowered as though dragged down by the weight of his nose he would charge across the immense room from one end to the other occasionally crashing into other guests saying sorry though his apologies fell on deaf ears Launched on his series of lightning slanting runs he camouflaged his isolation by giving the impression that it was desperately urgent that he get to someone he knew who was waiting over there at the far end of the room It was a gambit which deceived no one When Benedetti came across him and could not pretend he had not noticed he kept him at arm s length with a merry preventive All right and immediately left him to his unremitting ambulations Whereupon the doctor of social sciences and supercharged Wandering Jew set off once retraced one of his pointless A Fairly Honourable Defeat journeys through this land of exile and with the same haste headed for the buffet and a comforting sandwich which was his only social contact and the sole right he enjoyed at the reception For two hours between six and eight poor Finkelstein subjected himself to forced marches of several kilometers which he would not mention to his wife when he got home He loved his Rachel and kept his griefs to himself Why these unremitting charges And why stay so long among these unfeeling people Because he clung to his annual invitation because he would not admit defeat and also because he went in hopes of a miracle a conversation with another human being Poor inoffensive Finkelstein who wore your heart on your sleeve a Jew dear to my heart I hope you are in Israel now among your people among our brethren and touchable at lastYou don t read this novel because of its plot It could have had an entirely different setting or story yet it wouldust have perhaps meant having different targets for the author In any case because this novel is set in Geneva Switzerland in the 1930 s because one of the male principal protagonists Solal is a handsome playboy who is an Under Secretary General of the League of Nations because the other male character Didi is Solal s lazy subordinate whose idea of career advancement is to get his boss to his house for dinner or get a pat on the back from him because Didi is married to the beautiful airhead Ariane who falls in love with Solal and because this novel took almost 30 long years to write by the time you finish regretfully reading this great novel of 106 chapters you d feel that you ve been exposed to an all encompassing view of the world of wit Albert Cohen having been able to satirize andor expose the hypocrisy of married life love relationships career concerns high society sex the social classes the death of passion and the limits of lust with such prowess that he left me in awe Insightful because Cohen understood the frailty of men and women biting because he was simply wicked and wildly humorous because he was intelligent This has to be one of the best books I ve ever read It s genius I love writing style where each character has his own distinctive voice and I adore stream of consciousness bits where we go deep into thoughts of each character in an exploration of their point of view The psychological characterization is sharp and profound and I would say that the uality of analysis is Dostoyevski level The story really debunks the typical romantic fantasy of finding life s meaning in passionate love and shows ambivalence in lovers attitude and sort of cynicism that intelligent people have towards amorous relationships having the knowledge of hollowness of their pursuit of happiness in obsessive love but still being too hot blooded not to dive deep into their erotic desires The main characters are narcissistic self absorbed raw beautiful intelligent creative special religious idealistic sarcastic contradictory shallow and deep at the same time full of unfulfilled potential and painfully conscious of their state without the ability to change it Their characterization really shows the complexity of balancing emotions reason and moral values that all humans have to do and the tragic conseuences in which wrong decisions lead In Dante s Inferno lovers guilty of the sin of carnal lust are eternally whirled by the winds as they were helpless in life in the temptation of passion forever in that same scenario without any progress purpose goal and evolution and this novel is a painting of that hell while being alive Destruction of obsessive passion is spiritual psychological and physical And the brilliant underlying humor in the novel helped transcend the sadness that ending invokes Truly a masterpiece and I don t understand how it s not well known it s a big book but every second of reading was worth it This is a great novel about romantic love alternately one could say that it s about what it s like to be a sex and love addict since it doesn t portray romantic love very positively The three main characters are Ariane her husband Didi and Solal who later becomes Ariane s lover The first third is mostly about the young married couple Didi is one of the great idiots of literature and everything he does sets Ariane s teeth on edge She wishes every minute of the day that she hadn t married him she screwed up badly when she was 20 he rescued her and she accepted him out of gratitude and because she didn t have any alternatives It doesn t make her like him any better The book is often described in the francophone world as phallocrate you guessed that right but in the first part it s almost the opposite a lot is presented from Ariane s point of view including a memorable stream of consciousness passage when she s in her bath thinking mostly about how unbelievably disgusting and stupid it is to have sex with her husband You are a little startled that this was written by a man Didi is oblivious to the fact that she can. Merveilles point toujours comprises car elle le regardait trop mais toujours de toute son âme approuvées ui lui murmurait u'ils étaient amoureux et elle avait alors un impalpable rire tremblé voilà oui c'était cela amoureux et il lui murmurait u'il se mourait de baiser et bénir les longs cils recourbés mais non pas ici plus tard lorsu'ils seraient seuls et alors elle murmurait u'il.

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T stand him and it s clear that this state of affairs won t continue indefinitelySolal is Didi s exact opposite smart powerful and irresistibly attractive to women He s a big wheel at the League of Nations and Didi s boss He s fallen for Ariane who is a babe Solal has a tendency to fall for unsuitable babes he knows already that there s going to be trouble and that he s going to wish he hadn t done it Being a Don Juan type he s been round the cycle numerous times and feels disgusted with the predictability of everyone involved including himself At the same time the author conveys well his delight in Ariane s presence love transforms his world and makes him come alive To me Didi and Solal are idealized complementary halves I m guessing the author combined aspects of both of them though from what I can make out he was most like Solal It s an interesting way to present what he sees as the artificiality of romance a theme that becomes increasingly important later Sometimes you find yourself playing the role of the moronic despised soon to be cuckolded Didi sometimes you re cast as his dashing rival Both are ust roles and even though Solal gets the better one he often finds it stifling I perhaps make this sound like depressing stuff In fact the first part of the book is very light and funny There is foreshadowing but mostly you re ust laughing at all the stupid things Didi does and says About a third of the way through Ariane finally meets Solal Though in fact she s already met him since I didn t mention the book s very first scene you ll have to read it to find out what that s about He tells her that she will be his within three hours and then spends most of it explaining all the tricks he is going to use to seduce her I am not enough of a Don Juan myself to be able to say whether they are the most effective ones but based on my limited experience they sound correct At any rate they work on Ariane and we now embark on the second phase of the book where the focus contracts to include only the two lovers Solal has sent off Didi on a long work related trip so that he will have the field to himselfWhat s interesting about this part is the extremely cynical view of romantic love which it presents Everything depends on appearances Solal and his Belle take endless pains to present themselves to each other in as favorable a light as possible agonizing over the tiniest details and alternating between bottomless despair when they feel that they have made a gaffe and unbounded happiness when the loved one appreciates the latest little strategem It is constantly made clear that the whole thing is an illusion which both parties are working nonstop to maintain It s made eually clear how wonderful this illusion is for both of them and how necessary all the contrivances are to keep it alive given the basic rules of the game Though of course the author is also saying that there is something badly wrong with the game itself if it has to be played in such an absurd way sometimes he says it very explicitlyWriting this down I m reminded of a favorite scene from the 1983 movie Terms of Endearment Jack Nicholson is an aging former astronaut who spends most of his time drinking and trying to lay as many young women as possible Shirley MacClaine his next door neighbor has been watching his goings on for years with evident disapproval She s finally consented to enter his house It s covered with medals photographs taken from space what have you every suare centimeter screams Have sex with me I m a famous astronaut She looks around cooly and saysIs all of this really necessaryNicholson completely unembarrassed replies Necessary Sometimes it s not enoughI won t describe the last part of the book but it follows logically from what has gone before and is unlikely to leave you smiling idiotically about the beauties of love So handle with care but it s a great piece of work and will almost certainly make you thinkI picked this up again a couple of days ago and continued re reading it now about two thirds of the way through He s so good at showing you how stupid and crazy and selfish love can make you But also how beautiful and generous and godlike Often at the same timeAnd I d forgotten how incredibly sexy the stream of consciousness bits are Here s Ariane in her bath waiting impatiently for her lover to arrive after a long absence pench sur mon buste enfin uoi sur un de mes snies s il faut tout vous dire oui snies parfaitment Elisabeth Shue 135 Success Facts - Everything You Need to Know about Elisabeth Shue je dis les mots l envers uand a me g ne de les dire l endroit moi donc passive reine recevant l hommage ui fait tant de bien le suppliant ue longtemps longtemps droite puis gauche puis droite et moi reconnaissante r lant ronronnant avec distinction bref remerciements inarticul s et un peu le caressant mon ch ri dans ses cheveux sublimes en d sordre pour u il sache ue approuve et appr cie fort et pour l amour du ciel u il veuille bien continuer oh comme The Man Without a Face je suis rudimentaire et puis tout coupe lui dis ue e ne peux plus et u il me faut le sacre moi noble victime sur l autel tendue oui son ardin troit u il y entre u il y reste Gone (Gone, je le retiense l aspire oh reste toujours mon bien aim reste dans ta religieuse oh uand il en moi oui pas de honte de le dire parce ue tr s beau tr s noble oui oui uand il en moi c est l ternit oh uand il uand il se lib re en moi se lib re pulsations ue Threads Of The Shroud je sens en moi alorse le regarde et c est l ternit et All Seated on the Ground j accepte de mourir unour un soir d automne peut tre de cancer Untitled. j accepte puisue uand il exulte en moie vis ternelle oh e ouis plus de la Against All Odds joie uee lui donne ue de celle ue Jingling Daddys Bells BDSM Menage je lui prends mon amour dis ue tu es bien en moi oh reste reste assez ne plus continuer d fense de continuer parce ue a devient v ritablement odieux mon amour mais vous comprenez insupportable surtout dans l eau ui est complice terrible oh aim venez tre bien en moi s il vous pla tThe ending is very painful and very beautiful I was particularly moved by this passage les d buts leur temps de Gen ve les pr paratifs son bonheur d tre belle pour lui les attentes les arriv es neuf heures et elle tait toujours sur le seuil l attendre impatiente et en sant deeunesse l attendre sur le seuil et sous les roses dans la robe roumaine u il aimait blanche aux larges manches serr es aux poignets l enthusiasme de le revoir les soir es les heures se regarder se parler se raconter l autre tant de baisers re us et donn s oui les seuls vrais de sa vie et apr s l avoir uitt e tard dans la nuit uitt e avec tant de baisers baisers profonds baisers interminables il revenait parfois une heure plus tard ou des minutes plus tard splendeur de le revoir fervent retour The DOS je ne peux pas sans toi il lui disaite ne peux pas et d amour il pliait genou devant elle ui d amour pliait genou devant lui et c tait des baisers elle et lui religieux des baisers encore et encore baisers v ritables baisers d amour grands baisers battant l aile Against All Odds je ne peux pas sans toi il lui disait entre des baisers et il restait le merveilleux ui ne pouvait pas ne pouvait pas sans elle restait des heuresusu l aurore et aux chants des oiseaux et c tait l amour Et maintenant ils ne se d siraient plus ils s ennuyaient ensemble elle le savait bie. S avaient toute la vie et soudain elle avait peur de lui avoir déplu trop sûre d'elle mais non ô bonheur il lui souriait et contre lui la gardait et murmurait ue tous les soirs ils se verraient »Ariane devant son seigneur son maître son aimé Solal tous deux entourés d'une foule de comparses ce roman n'est rien de moins ue le chef d’œuvre de la littérature amoureuse de notre épo.

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Librarian Note There is than one author in the Goodreads database with this nameBorn Abraham Albert Cohen in Corfu Greece in 1895 as part of an important Sephardic Jewish community on the island Albert’s parents who owned a soap factory moved to Marseille France when he was a child Albert Cohen discusses this period in his novel Le livre de ma mère The Book of my Mother He studie