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The Recruit Paperback – January 2, 2012

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 50 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (January 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1468158252
  • ISBN-13: 978-1468158250
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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By Karl Janssen on September 27, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
The Recruit, also known as The Conscript, was originally published in 1831 under the French title Le Réquisitionnaire. It was written by Honoré de Balzac as part of his monumental series of works known as the Comédie Humaine. Though it is a short story of maybe 50 pages at most, like all pieces in the Comédie Humaine it is considered a stand-alone work of literature, and it is thus offered by Amazon in a Kindle file unto itself.

The story takes place shortly after the French Revolution. The royal court of Louis XVI has fled Paris and the palace at Versailles, and an overwhelming tide of anti-royalist sentiment has swept the nation. Madame de Dey is a wealthy and socially prominent widow living in the sleepy provincial town of Carentan, in Lower Normandy. She is beset by a flock of suitors who arduously strive for the attainment of her hand and her property, and surrounded by nosey neighbors of republican inclination who are just waiting for her to make a slip and betray her royalist sentiments. Her son, a soldier who has remained loyal to the royal cause, has followed the royals in their exile, leaving his mother alone to defend herself. When she cancels her weekly salon and closes her doors to visitors, it inspires a great deal of speculation and rumor among the suspicious citizens of Carentan.

Balzac does a brilliant job of encapsulating the paranoia and vindictive opportunism that pervaded provincial France following the Revolution. For American readers, imagine what it would be like if there were a civil war between liberals and conservatives in this country, and the persecution members of the losing side would face at the hands of the winners.
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