THE SECOND FACE by Marcel Ayme


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An infectious invention which is more subdued in its satire than The Miracu Lous Barber, the Barkeep of Blemont and which develops a tantalizing situation with style and assurance. Raoul Cerusier is astounded when the clerk of a Paris bureau informs him that his photographs, which he presents along with an application for a permit, do not agree with his face. He flees the bureau, and in a shop window confirms the frightening fact that he has a ""second face"". It is a younger face and gratifyingly handsome, but nonetheless it is not his own- and this presents many problems. Certain that he cannot convince his wife of this inexplicable shift, he devises an elaborate scheme for re-establishing an acceptable identity. He unwittingly convinces a close friend that he has murdered himself, becomes the lover of a young woman who would never look at him before, and is constantly threatened with exposure by an old relative. But, in spite of this natural set-up for ridding himself of a humdrum domestic life, Raoul wings back home, and to his surprise, and somewhat to his chagrin, finds that his staid wife yields quite readily to the youthful charm of his second face. An ingenious conceit which has its charm and vivacity.

Pub Date: April 9th, 1952
Publisher: Harper