Κυριακή, 16 Ιουνίου 2013

[ TBP ] Manon Lescaut


Paris, mid-18th century: an intriguing destination for time travelers of thought. Who wouldn’t indulge in walking down those magnificent alleys where legend crossed paths with history, thickening a set of plots so retold and yet too mystifying for the modern eye to fully conceive?

Paris is the place where the fearless thinkers of Humanity first confronted their spiteful social habits. It’s the everlasting capital for an omnipresent nation of romantics. An amazing Arena where passion and destiny collided. It couldn’t be but in those streets that Manon Lescaut meets her Chevalier; it’s a fair place for the Chevalier des Grieux to be held eternally captive to the love of his life.


It’s probably some sort of unconscious jaundice coming from the amateur writer in me that managed to prevent me from acknowledging (whole-heartedly and from the start) that an author could actually have meant for all the hidden meanings and interpretations the analysts grant his work with.

How could a relatively short and humbly-narrated story manage to underline the clear distinction between carnal and emotional faith, and at the same time speak out for a woman’s right to define and manage her sexuality? It’s the pre-romantic era for God’s sake, and yet, Abbé Prévost came to shoot down all my medieval convictions by giving me a character so true and fascinating such as Manon: a woman whose sole inheritance was her outspoken passion for life; a lady whose entire graciousness emanated from gratifying her need for pleasure; a persona we never actually get, who’s hard to interpret, that was –yet– granted selfless love for as long as she lived. This book framed my jealousy in so many different ways…


Such a collection of interesting notions I inherited after immersing my head into the fiction of the relationship between Manon and des Grieux. I realized that I don’t know Manon at all, and yet I found it easy in myself to judge her too harshly. Although the story is constantly narrated by des Grieux and all I can see is his point of view –there is not even a description to Manon’s way of speaking her mind– I found myself forming the world’s most sinister opinion around this woman, not long after the very first chapter of the book! I’m positive that this feeling of mine had nothing to do with Abbé Prévost’s intentions: he only managed to show me in the most prolific way how superficial and skin deep I can be, whenever I come across a person who dares in things that I sometimes feel I wouldn’t...

And that shocking idea of mental fidelity as a self-standing form of bonding, totally unrelated to physical contact; what a brain-maze that was! To hear a couple momentarily parley the concept, made it potent in my head! I could even word it my own way: “Worry not, my love, for our hearts are eternally conjoint. I am and always will be your significant other, yet my body needs to take a separate way. But I remain true to you, in a form that no man could ever comprehend or transcribe. I am yours till death do us part, but only by breaking our physical bond can I ensure our survival”. Come to think of it, by not sticking to that initial rule, someone died in the end…

I am not good at analyzing other people’s work; I see that, now. I’m not even disciplined enough to stay within the assignment’s word limit. However, there might be hope that I’m not so bad in analyzing the emotional marks that other people’s art leaves in me. And it’s this story, of the Chevalier des Grieux and of Manon Lescaut, which helped me draw up, still breathing and unharmed, parts of my serenity I thought lost for good.

I’m a better person than I was some time ago, although I retain some substantial amounts of guilt for the moments of weakness in my life when I seem to have ignored the miraculous fact that I, being almost as capricious as Manon, remain blessed with a noble man’s immaculate loyalty and affection.

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