by Charlotte Reads Classics

Bel-Ami, Guy de Maupassant

… What is life? A few days and then nothing more. You’re born, you grow up, you’re happy, you wait and then you die. Goodbye! Whether you’re a man or a woman, you’ll never come back on earth. And yet everyone bears within himself the feverish, hopeless wish to be eternal, each person is a sort of universe within the universe.

Night was falling gently, swathing the broad expanse of country to their right in shadow, like a mourning veil. The train was following the Seine, and the young couple started to watch the red gleams stained with fire and purple cast by the departing sun and reflected in the river unwinding like a broad band of polished metal alongside the railway-line. Gradually their glow died down, becoming first grey, then dark and sad. And the countryside sank into gloom with that sinister, deathly shudder that passes over the earth each day as twilight falls.
Through the open window the sadness of evening permeated the whole mood of the couple and they fell silent. Their previous cheerfulness had all evaporated as they moved closer together to watch the death throes of this beautiful clear May day.

My wednesday turned out to be awesome because despite being at work I managed to read all of Bel-Ami. Possibly down to the unadulterated joy of reading my brother’s second hand battered seventies copy, whose spine cracked and pages fell so pleasantly.