SÉBASTIEN ROCH by Octave Mirbeau

SÉBASTIEN ROCH

KIRKUS REVIEW

The “decadent” Mirbeau (1848–1917) is best known for his florid exercises in sensuality, Torture Garden and The Diary of a Chamber-maid (this latter the source of two famous films). Here, an (1890) novel, the completion of a partially autobiographical trilogy, portrays the foreshortened manhood of the eponymous Sébastien, a hopeful French provincial youngster who endures brutally humble beginnings and the various hardships of a Jesuit college, then perishes on a WWI battlefield. Sébastien is a kind of tabula rasa onto whom others' romantic and sexual longings are projected, without his full complicity with (or understanding of) the passions he innocently arouses. Mirbeau's superbly controlled period piece is, accordingly, both a keen portrayal of the idealism and solipsism of youth and a welcome reminder of the genius of a writer who has probably always been rather seriously underrated.

Pub Date: May 24th, 2000
ISBN: 1-873982-43-7
Page count: 266pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2000




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