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Description de l’éditeur
Pierre et Jean is a naturalist or psycho-realist work written by Guy
de Maupassant in Etretat in his native Normandy between June and September 1887.
This was Maupassant’s shortest novel. It appeared in three instalments in the
Nouvelle Revue and then in volume form in 1888, together with the essay “Le
Roman” [“The Novel”].
Pierre and Jean are the sons of Gerome Roland, a jeweller who has retired to
Le Havre, and his wife Louise. Pierre works as a doctor, and Jean is a lawyer.
It recounts the story of a middle-class French family whose lives are changed
when Leon Marechal, a deceased family friend, leaves his inheritance to Jean.
This provokes Pierre to doubt the fidelity of his mother and the legitimacy of
his brother. This investigation sparks violent reactions in Pierre, whose
external appearance vis a vis his mother visibly changes. In his anguish, most
notably shown during family meals, he tortures her with allusions to the past
that he has now uncovered. Meanwhile, Jean's career and love life improve over
the course of the novel while Pierre's life gets significantly worse. Provoked
by his brother's accusations of jealousy, Pierre reveals to Jean what he has
learned. However, unlike Pierre, Jean offers his mother love and protection. The
novel closes with Pierre’s departure on an oceanliner. Thus the novel is
organised around the unwelcome appearance of a truth (Jean’s illegitimacy), its
suppression for the sake of family continuity and the acquisition of wealth, and
the expulsion from the family of the legitimate son.
Pierre et Jean is a realist work, notably so by the subjects on which
it treats, including knowledge of one's heredity (whether one is a legitimate
son or a bastard), the bourgeoisie, and the problems stemming from money.
— Excerpted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.