R Her headmistress occasionally mocks her appearance and low status by holding up her brutish hand for the whole class to see what a little savage she is Her father is a runkard who often beats her senselessly her mother s suffering from a life crippling sickness Mouchette is bound to take care of her infant brother whom she bears no affection toward As a 14 years old she s stuck and feels like she s already The Beckoning Lady (Albert Campion dead inside She takes other people s perceptions of her to be true even thougheep Will in the World down sheetests her inculcated condition but she has no means of escaping from it She projects her feelings on a man who raped her espite "BEING FULLY AWARE OF HIS FALSE AFFECTION IN A "fully aware of his false affection In a where she s been misunderstood and abused all her life she longs for a glimpse of tenderness and understanding Moreover she yearns for someone who would see her as a human being instead of a wild savage who belongs on the periphery of a society I understand Mouchette s affection for her rapist and it s morbidly painful to even fathom that she wants no revenge or no harm to come to him One time she even said to him before resort to elegiac sobbing I would rather kill myself than let anyone harm you This emonstrates the intense loneliness she feels along with the shocking fact that she s aware of the extent of his crime but willing to ignore it for his sakeHer contemplation on suicide is probably one of the most haunting parts it reverberates her anguish and intense Baby and Child Vegetarian Recipes disgust through sensoryetails The thought of eath seizes her involuntary and it beckons her It s a tragic vision and a foreshadowing of Mouchette s pitiful ending superimposed by existential grief Mouchette s story illuminates class struggle in rural France It s the embodiment of mental affliction borne out of social marginalization and sualid poverty I recommend treating the introduction as an afterword Save it till after you ve read the novella There s so little story to be told in this tiny book and the introduction gives it all away Shame on the publishers This happens so often in classics that I ve learned not to go near intros Spoiler City In the 1980 s when I was an undergraduate the Nouvelle histoire e Mouchette was a popular choice for inclusion on first year French Lit courses The novel is short and clear both of which are important ualities for English speakers beginning to read French Moreover as it addressed the issues of alcoholism and rape it had the virtue of Der Illusionist discusssing topics that are still considered inappropriate for secondary school courses Finally the outstanding Robert Bresson movie version regularly appeared in the repertory cinema house which meant that the undergraduates who studied the bo I watched this film once aay for a few Enticing (PI Men to the Rescue days Ion t o this with many films La Strada Pierrot le Fou I watched upon waking for about
a week it was my version of a cup of coffee and the paper Umberto week it was my version of a cup of coffee and the paper Umberto a nightly salve But Mouchette my little savage this is a brutal and beautiful tale Raised by generational alcoholics scorned and abused shamed aily Mouchette abhors and esires affection and tenderness in love with the man who raped her the fierce and violent world of men is safe than the uncertainty of the world of women Classmates and neighbors teachers shopkeepers who may judge her or worse yet touch her caress her cheek and leave her lifting her face mid sleep waiting to be kissed to be touched and acknowledged Thirteen reasons why this is a FAR FAR superior book to a recently published widely read and much profitable book about a teen girl s suicide1 It wan t written on the author s used toilet paper2 It wan t written on the author s used toilet paper3 It wan t written on the author s used toilet paper4 It wan t written on the author s used toilet paper5 It wan t written on the author s used toilet paper6 It wan t written on the author s used toilet paper7 It wan t written on "the author s used toilet paper8 It wan t written on the author s used toilet paper9 It "author s used toilet paper8 It wan t written on the author s used toilet paper9 It t written on the author s used toilet paper10 It wan t written on the author s used toilet paper11 It wan t written on the author s used toilet paper12 It wan t written on the author s used toilet paper13 It wan t written on the author s used toilet pape. E against everyone” Hers is a tale of “tragic solitude” in which espair and salvation appear to be inextricably intertwined Bernanos uncompromising genius was a powerful inspiration to Flannery O’Connor and Mouchette was the source of a celebrated movie by irector Robert Bresson. .
summary Nouvelle histoire e MouchetteThis is one of those novels that oesn t overpower the reader with its sadness but rather works slowly to overwhelm them in a such a subtle way that the true impact falls upon you only after you ve turned the last page Mouchette is the story of a young girl who at "fourteen is lost somewhere between the world of "is lost somewhere between the world of confusion and grown up intuition Told in such beautiful and easy prose the harshness of the story is elevated into something pleasurable almost hiding the painful reality of Mouchette s plightOf course thoughts never passed through Mouchette s mind in such a logical way She was vague and jumped uickly from one thing to another If the very poor could associate the various images of their poverty they would be overwhelmed by it but their wretchedness seems to them to consist simply of an endless succession of miseries a series of unfortunate changes They are like blind men who with trembling fingers count out the coins whose value they cannot calculateThe emotion of the book comes not from the brutal events that befall Mouchette but from the fact that she barely cares She has resigned herself to being the little savage that her teacher and townspeople see She is aware of her ability to suffer through life but to what end To is aware of her ability to suffer through life but to what end To like the adults around her with only new and ifferent pains to come In much the same way as Kate Chopin s Awakening the reader accepts Mouchette s unwillingness to be bound to that sort of life and curses a world that allows such a Short Stories by Roald Dahl decision to become the only appropriate one Another amazing novel in the NYRB New York Review Book series of reissues of incredible novels thateserve to live on There are works of literature that readers find strangeThis particular adjective or atmosphere transcends genre and by it I am not referring to the oddness or unreality of horror stories apocalyptic stories or science fiction stories Such books for all their imaginative richness are nonetheless written as or less straightforward narratives most commonly written to form they are escapist works and I mean this as a compliment to them as having purpose and value Goldilocks the Three Bears designed to give pleasure to the reader and therefore cause the reader noiscomfort evoke in himher no reflection no uizzical expression or pause The strangeness of horror science fiction fantasy and noir is not the strangeness I wish to highlight hereBy contrast to the above works of literature aesthetically escribable as strange are works that reuire real effort to fathom that o cause a measure of iscomfort in the reader at least to the
extent that heshe has to struggle to understand the book that o evoke reflection pause and the re reading of passagesthat heshe has to struggle to understand the book that I Look Up To... Michelle Obama do evoke reflection pause and the re reading of passages pagesOf these books there are two general streaks of strangeness One there are what I will call books of mannered strangeness the self consciously strange the affectedly strange Examples of this type include books by David Foster Wallace Thomas Pynchon Tom Robbins William Vollmann Jorge Luis Borges and Roberto Bolano among others I get no personal satisfaction from reading the mannered strange Two there are the what I will call books of existential strangeness the articulation of life s mysteriousness itsimensions of seeming absurdities and incomprehensibilities the articulation of the real behind the factual The existential strange is recognizable and Doctor Extraño distinctive for the truth it sounds in the soul of the reader It is less a matter of knowing the truth about a particular thing less a matter of knowing some thing than it is a matter of recognizing the true of having the reader s own inarticulable knowing articulated rather exactly and authentically in a work of literature The existential strange speaks of existence and experience it speaks to reality in itsepth The existential strange uite unlike the mannered strange strikes the reader as having been written effortlessly flowingly Existential strangeness is beautiful no matter how ark is poetic even as prose and is honest especially if fictitious Examples of existential strangeness include everything written by Flannery O Connor books by Clarice Lispector NIGHTWOOD by Djuna Barnes and although BR Myers see his A READER S MANIFESTO AN ATTACK ON THE GROWING PRETENTIOUSNESS IN AM. One of the great mavericks of French literature Georges Bernanos combined raw realism with a spiritual focus of visionary intensity Mouchette stands with his celebrated Diary of a Country Priest as the perfection of his singular art“Nothing but a little savage” is how the village scho. ERICAN LITERARY PROSE would not agree with me on this I add the works of Cormac McCarthyWhich leads me to the existential strangeness of Georges Bernanos According to the back cover of the NYRB edition seen here MOUCHETTE stands with Bernanos celebrated DIARY OF A COUNTRY PRIEST as the perfection of his singular art I wholeheartedly agree In an introduction to this edition Fanny Howe wrote In this book Bernanos explores the uestion of what a person needs to live in the world At least one of the three criteria has to be met for a person to survive one needs to be useful to be loved to be safe Old people like the children of the poor are often Never Tell deprived of all three This is what the story of Mouchette is out toiscover What o we need to liveIn the novel itself Bernanos wrote People generally think that suicide is an act like any other the last link in a chain of reflections or at least of mental images the conclusion of a supreme ebate between the instinct to live and another mysterious instinct of renouncement and refusal But it is not like that Apart from certain abnormal exceptions suicide is an inexplicable and frighteningly sudden event That strikes me as existentially
true Later in the book Bernanos would add a gloss of sorts to this whenLater in the book Bernanos would add a gloss of sorts to this when writes Suicide only really frightens those who are never tempted by it and never will be for its Deterring Democracy darkness only welcomes those who are predestined to it Unless he is mad the last feeling of the person who kills himself must be one of amazement andesperate surpriseStrange MOUCHETTE is a work of existential strangeness Suicide only frightens those who are never tempted by it and never will be for its Comet in Moominland (The Moomins, darkness only welcomes those who are predestined to it 35 Realism soestitute yet graceful as to attain a kind of shimmering Hunters Heart deathly clarity andeep uarries of potential resonance Bresson made a film of it It jumped me at the library with its nyrb cover and only took a Menneskefluene (K2 day to bolt through Here s a story of a 14 year old girl in rural France translated from the French first published in 1937 so we assume we are harkening back to the author s youth in the early 1900 s Kerosene lanterns and candles give other clues of the era It s airt poor region of smugglers and poachers fueled by alcohol and abuse People Nazi Gold die young from tuberculosis Theeceased grandfather of Mouchette spent time in France s notorious prison in French Guyana probably Devil s Island Our main character is born into this world of poverty alcohol abuse Mr Majeika and the School Inspector disease andespair Even at this young age Mouchette s role in life is so inculcated into her that she Selected Poems deliberately smudges her face when she goes into town because she is expected to lookirty Her teacher holds up her filthy hands to the class to be mocked Mouchette s short life exemplifies the time of human history when life was mean brutish and short A powerful book For years I ve been obsessed with French cinema Every night I would choose an old French film from my collection and allow myself "to be fully immersed in its elusive beauty I was once struck by the sophistication of French film "be fully immersed in its elusive beauty I was once struck by the sophistication of French film after watching Au revoir les enfants by Louise Malle I was also eeply enthralled by Hiroshima Mon Amour and I remember "bawling my eyes out while watching Les uatre cents coups French cinema has the cinematic glamour of being exceedingly sophisticated and "my eyes out while watching Les uatre cents coups French cinema has the cinematic glamour of being exceedingly sophisticated and and it has been my niche since then There are films that I hold ear there are films I would re watch all the time and Mouchette is one of the films that I can t seem to let it slip into oblivion The last scene keeps playing in my head and my heart aches every time I think about the little poor wretch and her mental anguish The film itself has left an indelible mark on my psyche as it resonates with me on an intrinsic level through its exploration of existential Doctor Strange, Vol. 2 dread and contemplation on suicideMouchette by Georges Bernanos was published in 1937 and a fewecades later Robert Bressen turned the novella into a cinematic tour e force a film so heart wrenchingly harrowing that some viewers even regarded it as spiritual The story of Mouchette lacks all trace of exuberance she s a gloomy little creature regarded as a savage by all her schoolmates and teache. Ol teacher escribes fourteen year old Mouchette and that view is echoed by every right thinking local citizen Mouchette herself oesn’t bother to contradict it; ragged foulmouthed irt poor a born liar and loser she knows herself to be in the words of the story “alone completely alon.