Manon Lescaut

"The memory of such women as Helen and Cleopatra has haunted men down the ages, especially when the evil of their lives and the weakness of men who have succumbed to their spell have been visited by a terrible retribution. Such a woman is Manon Lescaut, whose story has been translated into most of the languages of the western world, whose power over the unfortunate Des Grieux has inspired the operas of Auber, Puccini and Massenet."
This introduction was enough to get me interested in Manon Lescaut. I wanted to read what type of woman it was that could be compared to the greats Helen and Cleopatra. I was somewhat disappointed. Although the book is not entirely boring, I found nothing entrancing in Manon Lescaut and the devoted worship with which Des Grieux pursued her and put up with every unfaithfulness wearied me.

Des Grieux is in love with a fickle creature; a woman he worships desperately but whom he cannot see for what she really is. I was (sometimes) moved to pity because of his indefatigable attraction to Manon, an attraction that costs him much more than just money, but the story shown through his eyes bored me with its constant repetition. Once, twice, thrice he falls for her charm and her beauty! I couldn't stand such blindness. The book vividly shows how the obsession of love can get hold of a man and degrade him beyond his imagination. That is what Des Grieux goes through. He can't break free - hence his constant relapse. Manon is like a drug to him. Although short in length, the novel seemed overly long and I was glad when I had finished it!

I read the English translation of the novel by L. W. Tancock. The style and the whole atmosphere reminded me of The Three Musketeers (which is also a French novel). While reading, I saw how Des Grieux and all his acquaintances viewed love in that time; all the evils committed when the hero was under its spell are pardonable apparently! It was obviously the normal way of thinking that thefts, murder and assault could happen and be easily pardoned when one is in love!

One thing I will say is that despite his constancy and the affection Des Grieux showed Manon, and the inconstancy and unfaithfulness she returned him, I liked her much better than him. She wasn't so annoying!

Manon Lescaut was my second pick for My Blind Date With a Book Feature, and it was a bigger disappointment than the first (see HERE). I didn't enjoy the story, the characters, or the writing style. I would rate this number 1. Hated it. No second date possible. Abbe Prevost tired me out, and at this moment, I don't intend to read another book by him. Let's see what the future says.

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