Jean Schopfer

Games of love and jealousy: Ariane, by Claude Anet, reviewed

‘The world might condemn me, but what’s the world? A gathering of fools and a pile of prejudices.’ Thus, with all the certainty and absolutism of youth, does the 17-year-old Ariane reflect on the prospect of selling herself. There would be an element of épater les bourgeois in this sentiment in almost any age, but to see it so freely expressed at the dawn of the last century comes as something of a surprise. Written in Russia while its French author chronicled the immediate aftermath of the Bolshevik revolution, Claude Anet’s Ariane is a striking, if now largely forgotten, account of a young woman’s pursuit of self-realisation in a world