Coup de Grace by Marguerite Yourcenar

Coup de grace by Marguerite Yourcenar

French fiction

Originalt title – Le coup de Grace

Translator – Grace Frick (with collaboration from the writer )

Source – personnel copy

Every time I think of you
I feel shot right through with a bolt of blue
It’s no problem of mine
But it’s a problem I find
Living a life that I can’t leave behind
But there’s no sense in telling me
The wisdom of the fool won’t set you free
But that’s the way that it goes
And it’s what nobody knows
well every day my confusion grows

Every time I see you falling
I get down on my knees and pray
I’m waiting for that final moment
You say the words that I can’t say

I choose Bizarre Love Triangle by New Order , a fitting song for this book I felt .

I try to give the blog scope by slowly working through great books and writers from around the world. So I read earlier this year coup de grace by Maguerite Yourcenar  for Women in translation month. Who was the first female to join the French academy.Although she left france and lived in Maine in the US since the outbreak of the second world war, she lived there with her partner Grace Frick who was also the translator of her book. she also worked as a translator herself and translated Virginia Woolf’s The waves into French .

It was FIVE in the morning, and pouring rain; Erick VOn Lhomond sat waiting in the station buffet at Pisa for the train which was to take him back to Germany. he had been wounded at Saragossa, and was just off an Italian hospital ship. Though nearly forty, he seemed young , as if his kind of hard, youthful elegance would never change; the narrow profile bespoke French ancestry, bt his mother was Balt and his father Prussian, hence the pale blue eyes, the tall stature, the arrogant smile and the heel-click,

I really got Erick from this opening lines he was maybe an early prototype in looks of a Nazi !!

Coupe de grace is a book written on the eve of the second world war about the russian civil war in a castle in what is now Latvia . The Story focus on a woman and the group of men that are in love with her Sophie is the woman and the men Erick a Prussian fighting for the white russians he has also fought in the first world war , he has been station in the castle that Sophie lives in with her brother Conrad .As she is the only woman about she captures men’s heart. She likes Erick but the harden soldier is maybe to war damage to reply to her love or does his love lie elsewhere . She escapes to join the reds and tragedy follows .

The terrible solitude of ones who loves was increased for Sophie by the fact she did not share the views of the rest of us: she had some sympathy for the Reds. For a nature like hers the supreme elegance evidently was to think that the enemy was right; accustomed to reasoning against herself she was probably as genrous in justifying our opponents as she was in absolving me .

She saw the reds point of view but stayed with the whites.

I feel there is more to this than first appears when you read it. Erich seems cold but he talks with Conrad maybe he is actually Homosexual, but given the time his love is unshown but an undercurrent to what is a triangle in a way she loves him and shows it he shows her no love but talks with the brother but not about love . Also given the time maybe the seeds of what was going to be the second world war were in the air so a tragic love story set among st a war maybe was poignant at the time. The story is slowly unwound for the read each character is believable , it is thought some of the story was based on an actual real event. I have Hadrian by her which I will read for next years woman in translation month I think .

Have you read Yourcenar ?

11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mytwostotinki
    Oct 25, 2015 @ 19:41:43

    Youcenar is a bit out of fashion now, but I enjoyed this book and Hadrian very much. I can also recommend the excellent movie by Volker Schloendorff based on the novel (with his wife Margarethe von Trotta and Matthias Habich in the leading roles).

    Reply

  2. Caroline
    Oct 26, 2015 @ 08:20:45

    I’ve only read her Hadrian which I liked a great deal. This one has been on my radar as well. But I’ve got a couple of her other books.

    Reply

  3. kaggsysbookishramblings
    Oct 26, 2015 @ 09:56:43

    Sounds fascinating Stu – I’ve heard of Youcenar but never read any of her fiction. Another author to look out for.

    Reply

  4. Jonathan
    Oct 26, 2015 @ 13:56:04

    I’ve heard of her and seen books by her but haven’t read anything by her. The Hadrian novel would probably be better for me.

    Reply

  5. 1streading
    Oct 26, 2015 @ 20:41:24

    Not read her – one to remember for next year’s Women in Translation month! Didn’t realise she’d written so much, though not much of it in print it seems.

    Reply

  6. Trackback: Woman in translation reviews from Sept 15 to July 16 | Winstonsdad's Blog

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