lovers in a dangerous time
Lovers by Daniel Arsand; Published by Europa Editions; Available in Paperback (2012)
Translated from the French, Arsand’s Lovers is a slim volume, almost more poetry chapbook than novel. In lyrical, indirect and somewhat purple prose, it tells the life story of Sébastien Faure, a shepherd in 18th century France. His sexual and romantic awakening begins when he is on hand to revive an injured nobleman, Balthazar de Créon - and he and Balthazar fall instantly in love.
Playing with different perspectives, but always in impressionistic vignettes, Arsand charts the story of Faure’s life including the affair with de Créon and the bitter rumours that begin to swirl around their ‘unnatural’ love in the French court. Lovers’ external world is oblique and dream-like while the character’s inner lives are where the story unfolds - their discoveries about themselves, and the meaning and nature of love. But even with this rich internality, there is a definite ambiguity at the heart of the story. Despite the brevity of the story, we have a strong sense of the inner lives of most of the point of view characters, but there is something hard to get hold of about Faure’s inner world. Despite inner declarations of devotion, he demonstrates self-absorption and leaves more than a little tragedy in his wake. Then again, in a story as romantically archetypical as Lovers, tragedy is necessary complement to love and self-discovery.
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