Le Désespéré

first publication date:  1930
original title:  Le Désespéré
original language:  French
narrative location:  Paris

The Desperate Man (Le Désespéré in French) is a novel written by French author Léon Bloy and originally prepared for publication in 1886 but officially published in 1887. That the author's first novel should have had such a rocky start seems characteristic of the life of both author and protagonist. The novel follows the brilliant but impoverished Caïn Marchenoir, an intransigeant Catholic writer of great promise living in Paris at the beginning of the French Third Republic as he struggles to balance two pairs of seemingly opposite and incompatible forces in his life. The first pair of incompatible forces he struggles with is an intense love for God with the need to follow honestly and thoughtfully the teachings of the Catholic Church, which is at odds with his strong extramarital sexual desire for a beautiful but naive ex-prostitute cum devout Catholic and aspiring saint (who later ends up in a mental institution). The second pair is a real and pressing need for stable income (a job) which is at odds with an intense disgust for, and rage against, the hypocritical, self-serving, corrupt attitudes and behaviors of the contemporary press and literary world of the time, as he sees it. It begins with a death (his father's) and ends with a death (his own), which makes it a tragedy arguably, while everything in between treats of the semi-autobiographical, extreme, and ostensively manic-depressive ups and downs of several months or telescopic years 'in the life' of a talented but desperate man. Source: Wikipedia (en)


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