An important book I think raising issues which were of interest at the time. The question of attaining authenticity without hurting others is surely, however, still with us. Certain themes about boredom, ennui in French certainly occupied others at the time from Flaubert, Baudelaire and on to Camus. Thanks for posting!
1001 Books begins its summary of The Immoralist like this:
A thought-provoking book that still has the power to challenge complacent attitudes and unfounded cultural assumptions, The Immoralist recounts a young Parisian man’s attempt to overcome social and sexual conformity. (1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, ABC Books 2006, p.241)
The novella is prefaced by an attempt to explain that the ‘problem’ of the book existed before it was written. It is then book-ended at the beginning by a pseudo-letter to the Prime Minister that asks what role in society a young man like the hero might have… and completed by that same friend’s awkward conclusion after the hero’s story has been told. That story is narrated by Michel, who starts out as an austere young scholar and ends up as a defiant hedonist.
The translation, by Dorothy Bussy, uses the term ‘hero’ in the preface. But it…
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