Friday, May 21, 2010

Book Review: Les Faux-monnayeurs

Today's review is on André Gide's Les Faux-monnayeurs (in English, that would be The Counterfeiters), which I read while I was studying in France this past Fall. Written in 1925, Les Faux-monnayeurs is a pure masterpiece. It was very different for it's time and is still appreciated by students, scholars, and avid readers alike. This novel, when it was written, was fresh and new. It changed the way our novels are written today. (Thank you, Gide!)
As I said above, it's been a few months since I've read this book, but it's still pretty fresh in my mind, and I can honestly say that it's one of my favorite books ever!!!!!!!!! There are so many "intrigues," or plots. The characters are fascinating. My favorite has to be Olivier. I loved the way Gide "painted his portrait." I can't exactly quote from the text, because I have the French version, but believe me when I say that Gide's prose and character descriptions are brilliant. I'm not sure a translated copy would be able to completely capture Gide's work.
Back to the different plots. I'll mention just a few, because there really are a lot, which is one of the things that make this book such a masterfull work of art. One of the main characters is named Bernard, who is struggling with his identity since finding out that his mother actually had him with another man. In other words, the man who has claimed to be his father for the past oh...16 years, is not really his father. And his father knows that. Bernard also has a fascination with Edouard, the uncle of his best friend Olivier. Edouard is a famous writer. Edouard is struggling himself with a number of issues, one of them being his relationship (which is a very awkward one..) with his nefew. There is also the "vilain" of the story, Monsieur Passavant (whose name, if you know French, has multiple meanings, one of which being "not a genius"..). The characters are all connected throughout the story, and I love the way Gide intertwines their stories. A favorite of mine is how he incorporates letters and Edouard's journal to help tell the story. Throughout everything else, there is also the underlying story of the actual counterfeit money.
I could write a whole dissertation just on this novel because it's that great and full of so much genius. I heart it.
And yes, I am completely gushing about this book. I recommend it to everyone. I honestly think it's a book everyone should read at least once, especially anyone who likes picking apart novels and all their social aspects.
I can't rate this novel with stars. All I can say is that it has totally won over my heart, and I feel many re-reads of it coming in my future. If you know French, read it in it's original language. Otherwise, I'm sure it will be awesome in English too, just as long as the translator properly translates Gide's stunning prose and style properly. Now go read Les Faux-monnayeurs (aka The Counterfeiters)!!

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