Review of a novel written by Abbé Prévost
A heartfelt story centred around Des Grieux whose pursuit of a young woman leads to his ruin when he sacrifices his family, friends, religion and career for her affections.
Written by Abbé Prévost and set against the backdrop of the urban lower class society of eighteenth century Paris, the story internalises the ecstasy and the agony of Des Grieux’s love for Manon Lescaut.
The intensity of his passion blinds him to his own sense of reason, even when confronted by Manon’s deceit. His conscience tells him that her conduct is wrong as the torment inflicted upon him by her actions tears him apart. But, despite everything, his love for her remains steadfast, untouched by the ravages of his raw suffering. This is characterised in the synopsis which beautifully describes the book as an imperishable story of the warfare between the flesh and the spirit common to all mankind.
It’s hard to imagine a story so insightful could be written without drawing upon a degree of personal experience. Stylistically, the prose is measured, clear and economical with few digressions. It’s almost as though every word has earnt the right to be there with not a syllable wasted.
Manon Lescaut is a celebration of the ambiguities of love, its passion, its joy and its pain. For Des Grieux, his arduous emotional journey is nothing more than a mere consequence of his desire and enduring love for Manon Lescaut.