Can you love an impostor? Can you understand an apparent sociopath? Maybe even admire him? At least for a few moments?
Yes, at least when his career is described by a writer like Maupassant.
After getting to know Maupassant through his stories, I would like to present his novel “Bel Ami” to you today.
Paris, end of the 19th century. Duroy, a former non-commissioned officer, drifts aimlessly through the liveliest city on the continent and enviously watches the hustle and bustle on the boulevards.
For he is destitute, without relationships and has no prospect of ever participating in the lives of the rich and beautiful.
So he only knows one goal: to move forward!
What helps him is male beauty and absolute ruthlessness.
For every hand presented serves only as a support on his way up and is mercilessly crushed under his boots when it is no longer of any use to him.
Maupassant draws a ruthless mores picture of Parisian society, which in his eyes is a conspiring community of greedy con artists. Without scruples and morals, ready to count everyone to your own troop who seems useful to you and to regard all others as enemies you have to fight.
Duroy now enters this world and manages to reach the highest circles through his will to power, an absolute coldness of feeling and the playing out of all his trump cards.
Maupassant shows us the gradual moral decline of a young man. It lets us experience its history up close and thus we begin to understand it.
Because don’t we also live in a time of skillful self-staging? In a time when many people are willing to do anything for power and influence? And are willing to go so much further than Duroy?
It is important to penetrate the soul life of these people through the words of a poet. To see how ascension makes them more and more indifferent to human emotions and how they become more and more inhuman and repulsive over time. But also how cleverly they pretend and learn to hide behind their masks.
This way we get to know them better than we ever could through studies or newspaper articles.
And we also learn to understand ourselves.
Because there is probably a secret place deep inside every man that says “Yes” to Duroy. Who looks at him with longing and wants everything he has achieved.
And which would be ready to go its way all too quickly if only you had the opportunity to do so.
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