Written by Andre Maurois; Translated by Adriana Hunter
Written in 1928 by French biographer and novelist Andre Maurois, Climates became a best seller in France and all over Europe. The first 100,000 copies printed of its Russian translation sold out the day they appeared in Moscow bookstores. This magnificently written novel about a double conjugal failure is imbued with subtle yet profound psychological insights of a caliber that arguably rivals Tolstoy's. Here Phillipe Marcenat, an erudite yet conventional industrialist from central France, falls madly in love with and marries the beautiful but unreliable Odile despite his family's disapproval. Soon, Phillipe's possessiveness and jealousy drive her away. Brokenhearted, Phillipe then marries the devoted and sincere Isabelle and promptly inflicts on his new wife the very same woes he endured at the hands of Odile. But Isabelle's integrity and determination to save her marriage adds yet another dimension to this extraordinary work on the dynamics and vicissitudes of love.
Category: Fiction - Classics
"Stripped of its period shading, this is a sad and timeless tale of women on pedestals and the pain of loving not wisely, but too well." -Kirkus Review
"This lucid new translation of a novel originally published in 1928 probes the timeless complications, betrayals, and fascinations wrought by love...With Sarah Bakewell’s (How to Live) introduction providing historical context and insight into the autobiographical nature of Maurois’s material, this new edition of Climates marks a valuable reintroduction to a neglected master." -Publishers Weekly
"The book’s...aphoristic philosophy is timeless." -New York Times
"Climates' prose affects a restrained elegance...which retains its period's aura...At the same time, its gentle rhythm allows Maurois' many insights to pop throughout like tiny bombs." -San Francisco Chronicle
"Climates...is orderly yet unsettling. It breathes an air that is profoundly civilized, but there is something violent and shattering about it, too. 'Even when it’s mutual, love is terrible,' says Philippe. It is terrible simply to be human—and there can be no subject more interesting to write about, or more beautiful, than that." -The New Yorker
"Climates is a delicious romantic bonbon that yanks the heartstrings." -Wall Street Journal
"A beautiful and heartbreaking novel of two marriages and the fractures endured by both...In this new translation, its penetrating examination of the psychology of love is made vivid for a new generation." -Granta
"An irresistible, micro-Proustian novel about a jealous husband and the woman who tries to save him." -Paris Review
"This new translation by Adriana Hunter fully captures the elegance and frivolity of its era. It artfully preserves timeless questions about the nature of love, too. Marcenat['s]...quest for the right “climate” for love shows the approach to be just as problematic nearly a century later." -The Daily Beast
André Maurois (1885–1967), born Emile Herzog, was a writer of considerable versatility who achieved success as a biographer, historian, and novelist. In 1938 he was elected to the Académie française. He is perhaps most famous for his biographical studies of Shelley, Disraeli, Byron, Proust, and Victor Hugo. Climats (Climates) was originally published in 1928.
Adriana Hunter studied French and Drama at the University of London. She has translated more than fifty books including Enough About Love by Hervé Le Tellier (Other Press). She won the 2011 Scott Moncrieff Prize, and her work has been shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize twice. She lives in Norfolk, England.
You must have been surprised when I left so suddenly. I apologize for that but do not regret it. I cannot tell whether you too can hear the hurricane of internal music stirring inside me over the last few days like Tristan da Cunha’s towering flames. Oh! I would so like to succumb to the tempest that, only the day before yesterday, in the forest, urged me to touch your white dress. But I am afraid of love, Isabelle, and of myself. I do not know what Renée or anyone else may have told you about my life. You and I have sometimes talked of it; I have not told you the truth. That is the charm of new acquaintances: the hope that, in their eyes and by denying the truth, we can transform a past that we wish had been happier. Our friendship has gone beyond the point of overly flattering confidences. Men surrender their souls, as women do their bodies, in successive and carefully defended stages. One after the other, I have thrown my most secret troops into battle. My true memories, corralled in their enclave, will soon give themselves up and come out into the open.
I am a long way from you now, in the very room in which I slept as a child. On the wall are the shelves laden with books that my mother has been keeping for more than twenty years “for her eldest grandson.” Will I have sons? That wide red spine stained with ink is my old Greek dictionary, those gold bindings, my prizes. I wish I could tell you everything, Isabelle, from the sensitive little boy to the cynical adolescent, and on to the unhappy, wounded man. I wish I could tell you everything in complete innocence, exactitude, and humility. Perhaps, if I manage to finish writing this, I will not have the courage to show it to you. Never mind. It is still worthwhile, if only for my own sake, to assess what my life has been.