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Le Coup de grâce [PDF / Epub] ❤ Le Coup de grâce ✅ Marguerite Yourcenar – Liversite.co.uk Set in the Baltic provinces in the aftermath of World War I Coup de Grace tells the story of an intimacy that grows between three young people hemmed in by civil war Erick a Prussian fighting with the Set in the Baltic provinces in the aftermath of World War I Coup de Grace tells the story of an intimacy that grows between three young people hemmed in by civil war Erick a Prussian fighting with the White Russians against the Bolsheviks; Conrad his best friend from childhood; and Sophie whose unreuited love for Erik becomes an unbearable burden.


10 thoughts on “Le Coup de grâce

  1. Ilse(on semi-hiatus) Ilse(on semi-hiatus) says:

    Yet each man kills the thing he loves In a breath taking disheartening solilouy addressed to his comrades in a railway station waiting room in Pisa a German officer Erick de Lhomond wounded in the Spanish civil war and waiting for a train to take him back to Germany reminiscences on a dramatic episode in his life the ten months he had been fighting as a volunteer in the Baltics against the Bolsheviks – reflecting on what has been the most meaningful and exigent friendship in his life sharing a life of hardship and war with the aristocratic siblings Conrad and Sophie de Reval Against the backdrop of war shifting and uncertain loyalties loss death and disillusion he looks back on the beginning of his particular friendship with the ethereal Conrad and the love hate relationship Erick will unwillingly develop with Conrad’s sister Sophie as she gets hopelessly obsessed with Erick in an ardent and all consuming passion – passion he indulges in but cannot answer wondering why ‘ women fall in love with the very men who are destined otherwise and who accordingly must repulse them or else deny their own nature’Analysing his own ambivalent role thoughts motives and emotions at that time unravelling his agonising memories and self delusions on love and friendship and his own nature the intemperance of Sophie and the dynamics which ruled her excessive self destructiveness and shattered his aloofness Erick contemplates on the trio’s tragedy and the conseuences of his own choices René Magritte Love from a DistanceIn this short novel first published in 1939 which almost reads like a theatre monologue Franco Belgian author Marguerite Yourcenar focuses on the psychological dissection of human bonds and intimacy created by inexorable common destiny which get intensified magnified and brought to extremes by the ubiuity of impending death – the strains and horrors of war mirrored by the psychological warfare between Erick and Sophie As only having read and admired Yourcenar’s magnificent philosophical and erudite novel The Abyss so far the psychological cruelty and violence of this war story took me somewhat by surprise puzzling me both on the vehemence of the protagonists as well on their chilling vision on female sexuality at a certain moment Erick suggests the aptitude of rape as an instrument to awaken a woman sexually and leaving me wondering why Yourcenar chose to paint this sophisticated portrait of an in several respects ambiguous character not able to desire a particular woman who is madly in love with him as well as the woman seen through his eyes The historic background set aside a possible key to the understanding of this disconcerting tale could be found its autobiographical character as according to her biographer Josyane Savigneau in Marguerite Yourcenar Inventing a Life Coup de grâce was written to settles scores with a man Yourcenar had been vainly in love with– and so the unreuited passion crystallized into the novelist’s most adeuate weapon her art And maybe such attitude shouldn’t surprise from a woman who wrote about passion We are so used to seeing in wisdom a residue of dead passions that it's difficult to recognize in it the hardest and most condensed form of ardour the gold nugget pulled out of the fire not the ashes René Magritte Deep Waters Like the title suggests in the end mercy will be granted be it of the kind that comes back with a vengeance 12


  2. Cheryl Cheryl says:

    Love had made her a glove in my hands of a texture both supple and strongEspresso another cup of espresso and espresso as I read this book The title of the book says everything you need to know This is one book that didn't attempt to pull me in as the first few pages are story stilts but just when I thought I knew where its texture and narrator were taking me it yanked me by the hair surprised the hell out of me and uite frankly made me a bit uneasy Why read another war novel of despair after just having read Zweig's The Post Office Girl? I'm not sure I've always wanted to sample Marguerite Yourcenar's works and this was an easier shorter avenue Besides there is to this than war; there is love and bond even when love becomes an additional wound And there are those distilling moments of contemplation when Erick tenderly presents imagery of Sophie a woman who desperately loved him but one whose love he could not return In the glass were reflected the eyes of a child or of an angel perhaps; the face was broad with contours not sharply defined like earth itself in spring a region of fields gently sloping traversed by streams of tears; the cheeks had the tint of sunlight on snow and the lips's pale rose almost made one tremble; her hair was as blond as those light golden loaves of good bread that we saw no This Sophie reminds me of the Sophie in Styron's Sophie's Choice one whose world around her shatters and soon she becomes one of the shards Really what can I say about this plot of layered despair except that I could hardly concentrate on Erick's stoic narration I barely was able to uncover Conrad's motives perhaps because he chose to live through his books ignorant of many things occurring around him and I only wanted to see Sophie illuminated? The prose is elegant and occurs in mouthfuls of expertly arranged words that at times are lyrical and there in the background there is Sophie occurring through Erick's recollections a woman in love with a man undeserving a woman symbolic of the civil war occurring a woman who must sacrifice everything she knows to fight for everything she believes


  3. Steve Steve says:

    Marguerite Yourcenar 1903 1987 Elle était trop jeune pour se douter ue l'existence n'est pas faite d'élans subits et constance obstinée mais de compromissions et oublis Based upon actual incidents Marguerite Yourcenar's short novel Le Coup de grâce 1939 is despite all the trappings of the setting in western Latvia during the 1919 war between the Bolshevists and their many enemies a close and claustrophobic examination of a ménage à trois consisting of Eric the narrator and the siblings Conrad and Sophie that could not but remind me of Jean Cocteau's Les Enfants terribles published a decade earlier The vectors of desire within the threesomes differ but the cruelty obsession and co dependence of the characters are very similar in these two books as is the growing presence of death at the core of the relationships Though the relation never crosses the line so firmly drawn by church and state at that time a line which I am grateful to be able to say is passing from absolute to derisory during my lifetime Eric and Conrad form the central pair and Sophie is the self sacrificing satellite Nonetheless to my mind it is Sophie who is the central character Not only does she occupy the narrator than anybody or anything else but it is her love commitment desperation despair and finally rebellion that give shape to the narrative and lead to the final terrible scene The accompanying story of the war in the Baltics is not entirely essential but it does add another layer of fated darkness to the trio's tragedy as Eric and Conrad fight their doomed battle against the Bolschevists while European governments exhausted by the War to End All Wars increasingly erect obstacles to the logistical support of the anti Bolshevists Conrad is nearly a cypher of purity Eric is lucid distant and solitary while Sophie is self destructive and desperate; all are doomed Yourcenar has produced a tale that is every bit as dark as Cocteau's if not uite as distilled as honed to a fine and exact point of concentration and told with penetrating psychological finesse She was too young to suspect that existence is not made of sudden elans and obstinate constancy but of compromises and disrememberings In Les Enfants terribles the siblings Paul and Elisabeth formed the binary system whose satellite was Gérard


  4. mwpm mwpm says:

    Devastating Utterly devastating The novel succeeds as a war story as a love story and as a portrait of its protagonist Erick a young man – “one of those men who were too young in 1914 to have done than brush with danger but who were transformed into soldiers of fortune by Europe’s post war disorder” pg 4 – a Prussian fighting with the White Russians in the civil war against the Bolsheviks a civil war about which I knew very little fighting alongside his best friend Conrad – “The country folk took us for brothers a simple solution for those who have no conception of ardent friendship” pg 14 – at times defending his own village which seems to be captured and reclaimed several times in the course of the narrative to dramatic effect and in turn defending Conrad’s sister Sophie or defending himself against the affection shown to him by Sophie the only danger he cannot comprehend in wartime a time that calls for him to be hardened and so he must remain hardened even against Sophie’s affection which threatens to soften him and make him vulnerableThe love story is perhaps the cruelest I’ve ever read heightened by the cruelties of war And yet this story resonated deeply with me perhaps because I’m jaded about “love” I haven’t read anything that compares Perhaps Victoria by Knut Hamsun? Or Nathanael West? But the context of the love is drastically different focusing on class rather than war The roles too are reversed Whereas Erick rejects Sophie in Coup de Grace Johannes is rejected by Victoria But the tone of their love – the back and forth the rejection and imploring their lack of synchronicity – in this way the stories are comparable At times the story reminded me of Jules and Jim by Henri Pierre Roché I cannot help but compare Erick to Jim Conrad to Jules and Sophie to Kate The First World War plays a significant role in both stories In Jules and Jim the titular characters fight on opposing sides The war itself however is reduced to one chapter I cannot help that if the story of Jules and Jim were to be told amidst the war and that that one chapter were to be expanded it would look something like Coup de Grace albeit less cruel less cynicalThere is a precision on the author’s prose that I admired The text is not overly descriptive but the author often takes care to clarify details when it is absolutely necessary as in the case where Sophie reminded by Erick of her brother Conrad says “Oh Conrad” The author elaborates“with a note of infinite weariness in her voice and with such apparent indifference to her brother’s fate that I wondered if she had begun to loathe him But she had simply reached that state of utter exhaustion where nothing counted any and she had ceased to worry about the safety of those nearest to her just as she had ceased to look to Lenin as a leader” pg 73The characters have depth they have favourite poets they attempt to write poetry themselves They may be caught in the fray of a tragic war but they still have rich inner lives Perhaps this is least true of the narrator who admits to his lack of “purity” who remarks in the early chapters of the book“Perhaps I am generalizing from a wholly individual case of moral impotency of all the men I know I am least disposed to seek out ideological incitements in order to love or hate my fellow beings; it is only for causes in which I do not believe that I have been willing to risk my life” pg 9Perhaps I should rephrase It is not the absence of a “rich inner life” that separates the narrator but an aversion from the arts from love from any kind of transcendence that would enable him to escape if only temporarily from the horrors of war; it is this aversion that betrays the depravity of our narrator


  5. Richard Derus Richard Derus says:

    Rating 35 of fiveThe Book Report Told in the first person past perfect this tale of three young people caught in a highly hormonal passage of their lives at the same moment as the Russian Revolution overthrows the privileged existences they'd led until that time purports to be the memory of Erick von Lhomond as he sits in a train station cafe on his way to who knows where after his career as a soldier of fortune has led to a wounding in the Spanish Civil War then newly ended Erick recalls his love for sibling aristos Conrad and Sophie children of the Count of Reval and his cousins Sophie falls in love with him; he and Conrad are already involved Triangle collapses the two siblings die and cowardly contemptible Erick soldiers on It's all in the hows as life so often is when one is young; now in the fullness of his wasted years Erick is seeing the whys and they're keeping him up nights And not a moment too soon ask meMy Review récit French “narrative” or “account” a brief novel usually with a simple narrative line; studiedly simple but deeply ironic tales in which the first person narrator reveals the inherent moral ambiguities of life by means of seemingly innocuous reminiscencesIt's a very French narrative form is the récit the novella's Goth cousin all chains and weird makeup effects and scary looking hair It's perfect for telling this sort of moralizing by a man with no morals tale and there aren't that many English language writers willing to do this without oodles of padding and the crutch of multiple characters Yourcenar whose Memoirs of Hadrian lives as one of my all time favorite reads tackled this difficult task in 1939 before WWII's official starting gun She was uite clearly aware that war was inevitable and imminent and wrote this tale as a protest against the further damage inevitable in a warThe ending of the book stark and violent and horrfying sums up the expectations of this Belgian survivor of the First World War and they were not in the least bit too dark or pessimisticI found the casual unremarked on anti Semitism of the book jarring I know it was a part of the culture Yourcenar lived in but it hasn't aged well I wasn't very impressed with the narrator's casual caddish sexuality eitherConrad could certainly have done better and Sophie's awakening has such tragic conseuences that it makes one doubt the sanity of the child she's sixteen to Conrad's and Erick's twenty during the brief span covered by this bookRecommended? Well on the whole no It's not a casual book and it would offer too few thrills for most people in the modern audience For me I'm glad I read it but I won't re read it ever


  6. J.M. Hushour J.M. Hushour says:

    I come to this outstanding novel by way of the outstanding film version by Volker Schlondorff The film is a little different told from Sophie's point of view The novel is narrated by von Lhomond himself so originally it had a much clearly defined focusWhat can one say about this strange little story? It's about a brother and sister and their childhood friend the officer von Lhomond and the strange love between the sister Sophia and von Lhomond and the banal love of the two men This is made apparent in the film but is certainly heavily alluded to in the book The backdrop is the confusing bewildering civil war fought in the Baltics just after World War I a bleak wintry setting for a bleak as shit story of unreuited love Or is it? It's hard to say The novel is psychologically complex and beautiful in parts unapologetic and the stunning baffling end will give you hours of unsettled thought


  7. Liviu Liviu says:

    Long time ago the two famous M Yourcenar novels Memoirs of Hadrian Abyss were huge favorites I used to read often though I haven't looked at them in probably 25 years maybe so i have no idea how they would read today; so when this book came to my attention by chance a few days ago and I liked the excerpt I ordered a copy and as it's a short book I actually managed to finish it in two days funnily I got a very annotated copy seemingly by someone for some study it's a 1990's edition so i found it interesting someone actually studied it fairly recently as the book is written in the late 30's published in the 50's and it shows in many ways and I enjoyed reading the pencil hand written notes alongside the text tooThis being said and noting the blurb above is utterly wrong as Sophie is Conrad's sister and she has an unreuited passion for the narrator Erick actually while he is into Conrad though in the 30's tradition and like in the Memoirs of Hadrian there is no overt sexuality between the two men and Erick's inclinations are only hinted it is definitely a book of its timesThere are other ways in which the book shows its age the sometimes over the top writing the German aristocrat soldier hero narrator who had just returned wounded from fighting alongside Franco's forces in 1938 when he tells this tale of his younger years in the 1919 1921 war against Bolshevism in the Baltic states while the novel is of an old fashioned psychological tale where the war and death symbolized so well in the 3 person bridge games Erick Conrad and Sophie play nightly on the siblings' Baltic estate now a White force base on the front line and where their soldiers and comrades die constantly under fire while Bolshevik prisoners are also executed daily with the dummy le mort the dead in French getting the name of one of the corresponding day's dead is a background that frames the over the top emotions of the narrator and of Sophie whose trauma early in the war leads to her fixation on the first eligible man Erick is a poor aristocrat as his father lost their estates and money in gambling and prostitutes before dying conveniently on the front in France in 1915 but he is an aristocrat nonetheless while Sophie and Conrad's relatives have recently been shot by the Bolsheviks in Riga or at least this being how Erick intellectualizes Sophie's attraction to him while he would rather be with Conrad all the time after allEminently readable and with the conclusion mentioned by Erick a few times across the narration so with no particular twists or turns except in the intensity of the language but the really old fashioned feel of the book shows too much for it too be one of my memorable reads; still a page turner that kept me interested till the end


  8. Jim Coughenour Jim Coughenour says:

    One is always trapped somehow in dealings with womenA curious remark given that it's stated by an executioner a man involved in an obliue love triangle the speaker's in love with the brother of a woman who hopelessly loves him who is in fact a character invented by the severe French lesbian Marguerite Yourcenar This short novel is a long monologue the painful confession of a blighted life – and this reader ached for the coup de grace long before it cameEdmund White describes Yourcenar's Coup de Grace as perhaps her strongest piece of fiction It's many years since I read Memoirs of Hadrian but I remember that book as being impressive This book does indeed possess a kind of cheerless hauteur but it has the feel of a period piece Still there's something intriguing to me about novels with a gay protagonist written by women I always think of Mary Renault in this connection who like Yourcenar crafted an impressive career out of such strong characters


  9. Jeremy Jeremy says:

    Yourcenar can write seemingly anything Just as in 'Memoirs of Hadrian' her ability to invent voices out of the past and to make them believable and sympathetic is phenomenal Only people like Patrick Leigh Fermor Umberto Eco and Jonathan Littell write with such a total command of european history and geographyThis is a VERY 19th century short novel about one small corner of the Russian Civil War Yourcenar's narration of the life of a young White Russian solider his friendships and ultimately tragic love interests feels like something that could just as easily have been written in 1839 as 1939 when it was published It's very heavily narrated in the way that novels from the previous century are but somehow that anachronism makes it all the poignant Yourcenar shows the transition from the old Europe of noblesse oblige and genteel manners to the new Europe of modern warfare and pitiless ideological struggle A short read to make you sigh and look out the window on a rainy day


  10. Lobstergirl Lobstergirl says:

    In Lithuania during the Russian Civil War after WWI three young Prussian aristocrats fight their passions their ennui the Bolsheviks and Yourcenar's staggering usage of colons and semicolons Needless to say the punctuation defeats everyone This is a very violent novella Life has little value In addition to a rape off scene there's a slap a bullet to the stomach and an execution Oh and a little dog is killed by a grenade This is my first Yourcenar so I don't know yet if her punctuation threatens all her work


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