Friday, July 3, 2009

Novels About Paris Life

Students had a choice of several novels they could read before arriving in Paris. I asked them to write in their journals about their Favorite Characters :
Elaina Ross read
The Mandarins by Simone de Beauvoir:
"I was interested in Anne because she did not pretend. Every circumstance she encountered was told with no reservations or excuses, only a report of exactly what occurred. Even the most basic instinct, caring for her child, is lacking in some way for Anne, but she does not pretend her feelings are different. Anne acknowledges that her life is easier and even more enjoyable when Nadine, her daughter, is gone to Portugal with Henri. Because Anne is aware of her feelings, she can adjust her behavior to include them instead of acting horribly towards her daughter without understanding why. Her self-awareness is heightened, letting her truly be herself at all times."
Erynn Campbell and Jason Jennings read
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas:
"I liked Jacopo because, even though he is a lowly smuggler, he has more loyalty to his friends than anyone else in the book. he stays with Edmond through thick and thin, even when Edmond does not want him. he helps his friends in any way possible, and loved Edmond with all his heart.and even when everyone abandoned Edmond, Jacopo was still there,refusing to leave. How we need more men with that kind of loyalty!!" -Erynn"I must admit [Edmond Dant├Ęs] was not my favorite character when I first read this book, but after the diabolical way he deals with his enemies, yet can show enough compassion to forgive, at least up to a point gives a poignant perspective on what we consider justified and what we consider to be going too far, he finally won me over. So this book to me is a powerful look into the passage from child to adult and how this passage shapes a person into what they need to be. Plus this book also explores the power of love/compassion compared to the power of hate/revenge." -Jason
Catherine Jennings, Valeria Rader, and Jessica Catcher read
Horace by George Sand:
"As I read the novel my affections for the characters changed as their action as attitudes changed. In the beginning of the novel I liked Horace; in spite of his shortcomings I enjoyed his attitude on life and the way that he just didn’t take himself or his life to seriously. His attitude was, to me, a great representation of the Parisian lifestyle; one that involves lots of fashion and cafes and enjoying long strolls in the park." -Catherine
"[Paul Arsene] was obviously the most emotionally stable character, if not a little sympathetically stunted. I really liked how they called him 'Masaccio' and could relate to his fears of not being able to provide well enough for himself, let alone any others, on an artist's salary. It annoyed me how stupid Marthe was about his love for her. He was obviously the best choice and the only one who ever legitimately loved her, yet she had to have the exciting and dramatic romances with M. Poisson and Horace. I just don't understand people like that." -Jessica
"I am not sure I have a favorite character....Each of their lives is so messed up and full of pain....I suppose the character I liked the most after writing this and thinking about it was the narrator. He had so much compassion. Compassion is hard to come by these days and it was so refreshing to see him continue to love Horace the way he did" - Valeria

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