This book has been on my radar for a while now since hearing that one of my favourite authors, Yukio Mishima, counted Radiguet as one of his influences and hoped to emulate his writing style.
The story itself is intriguing, and not as explicit at it may sound like at first. A 16 year old boy falls in love with a 19 year old married woman whose husband is fighting at the front during WW1. The couple embark on an affair, one that brings out rollercoaster emotions in the boy; one moment he is having deep philosophical thoughts about love and displaying maturity beyond his years, the next he gets angsty, selfish and manipulative.
Even if we disregard the fact that Radiguet was only 17 years old when he wrote this book, it’s clear that he was a gifted writer. The writing was truly wonderful and flowed well. An example:
“My hypnotic state made me believe that ours was an exceptional love . We imagined we were the first to experience particular anxieties, not realising that love is like poetry, and that all lovers, even the most unremarkable, think they are breaking new ground.”
Unfortunately he died at the age of 20 from typhoid fever so we are unable to see how his writing might have progressed through time.
This is a quote that made me ponder:
“No doubt we are all like Narcissus, we both love and loathe our own image, while being indifferent to any others. The instinct for similarity is what leads us through life, calling out “stop!” in front of a landscape, a woman, a piece of poetry.”
All in all a good, interesting read.