Henry James’ admiration for “this masterly little
novel” has been echoed throughout the twentieth century by readers of Pierre
et Jean. It marked a turning point in the development of French fiction,
situated as it is between traditional social realism and the psychological
novel. It is recognized as a classic study of filial jealousy, triggered by one
of the two brothers of its title finding himself the sole inheritor of the
fortune of his mother’s former lover.
Pierre et Jean is set in Le Havre in the 1880s and is
notable for its evocation of the Normandy coastline captured by the
Impressionists. But Maupassant’s greatest achievement is to have woven from
this simple plot in a maritime context a brilliantly crafted exploration of the
complexities at the heart of family life. Download and start listening now!