Short summary - The Unknown Sea - François Mauriac

French literature summaries - 2021

Short summary - The Unknown Sea
François Mauriac

We find a wealthy Revolu family at a critical moment in their lives. Madame Revolu, her sons Denis and Julien, her daughter Rosie learn the terrible news - their father, the owner of the largest notary office in the city - Oscar Revolu - is ruined. He kept his dancer mistress Regina Lorati. But it was not ruin so much as Regina's infidelity that pushed him to commit suicide.
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For every family member, this is a ruin. For Rosie, it's a failed wedding. For Julien - a rejection of high society fun. For their mother - Lucienne Revolu - a loss of money, tantamount to the loss of everything in the world. And only the youngest - Denis, silently noting how little he and everyone else think about the death of his father, finds something positive in her - he is very attached to Rosie's sister and is glad that her wedding will be upset, he does not believe her fiancé.
At this tragic hour for the Revolu family, Leonie Costado appears in their house, the mother of Rosie's fiancé, Robert, and two more sons: the poet Pierre and the cutie and womanizer Gaston, who “took away” the dancer. She knew that Lucienne's dowry was not touched, and she came to snatch her four hundred thousand francs, which she gave to Oscar Revol, so that he would put them into circulation. She explained her act by saying that "this is my sons' money." Money for her is sacred, for the sake of it it is not a sin to "finish off" an old friend. In response to her sons' reproaches of cruelty, she rebuffs them: “You, if you please to see, despise money, but you yourself live without denying yourself anything; you wouldn't even think about what it cost your grandfathers to save money <...> This money should be sacred to you ... ”
Money is sacred in this world - her rebellious sons also understand this. However, Pierre, the youngest, resists this. "I hate money because I am completely in their power <...> After all, we live in a world where the essence of everything is money <...> to rebel against them means to rebel against our whole world, against its way of life."
The senior clerk of the notary office, devoted to Oscar Revolution, Landen helped the ruined family to put things in order and managed to leave behind them the estate - Leognan, in which they all move to live. Sorting through the papers of the late chief, he stumbles upon his notebook. In it he finds notes about himself: “How disgusting is the closeness of this person who entered my life during my school years <...> This is a cesspool near which I happened to work, love, enjoy, suffer, which I did not choose, which chose me ... ”The revolution realizes that Landen will destroy him. “The frantic pace of my life, the transformation of my office into a real factory is his handiwork <...> If not for him, the instinct of self-preservation would have spoken in me, the years would have muffled the voice of desire. Because of the reptile, everything in my life turned upside down. Only I alone know that his true, unknown to him vocation is to commit crimes. "
Landen, whose appearance caused involuntary disgust, leaves at the invitation of a notary office in Paris, succeeds, makes shameful connections and becomes a victim of a murderer.
But back to the Revolu family. The only one who did not succumb to despondency was Rosie - Rosetta. She is full of life, strength, and she does not give up. Rosie gets a job as a saleswoman in a bookstore. Now she gets up early in the morning and takes the tram to work. She meets Robert again. He again finds himself in the role of the groom. But not for long. Rosetta is full of happiness and does not notice what Robert sees. And he sees a thinner girl with dull hair, worn-out shoes and a simple dress. It cannot be said that he loved the money of Rosetta Revolu, but he loved the look of the girl created by this money. And Rosetta, living by the same laws, suffering, recognizes his rightness. The gap is emptying her soul. But gradually she comes out of her state. Robert's farewell letter, in which he sincerely repent of his weakness and calls himself a pitiful creature, led her "to some kind of heartfelt closeness to the Almighty." Prayer becomes her consolation. In the end, she leaves her home with hope, because there was a light of faith in her soul. Julien, after the ruin of his father, cannot accept another life. He lies in bed all day, allowing his mother to take care of him.
Madame Revolu dies of cancer, hesitating for an operation, mainly because of money. Money is more precious than life. Her friend-enemy Madame Leonie Costado dies, Julien dies.
Denis fails the matriculation exam and seeks solace in the lines of Racine, so adored by his friend Pierre Costado: “A terrible misfortune has happened. But I swear / I look in his face - I'm not afraid of him ... ”In fact, he gives up. He will not survive in this life. And he agrees that Cavelier, a longtime neighbor, invest money in their estate in exchange for the marriage of Denis to his beloved daughter, fatty Irene. "She or the other ... Doesn't it matter?" - so decided Denis and entered his dungeon, no matter how resisted his sister.
Pierre Costado - the youngest in the Costado family, having received his share of the inheritance, travels. He writes the poem "Hatis and Cybele", dreams and searches for his own path in life. He is tormented by contradictions - on the one hand, he hates money and despises their power. But on the other hand, he cannot part with them, since they give comfort, independence, the opportunity to study poetry. He's in Paris. This is where his significant meeting with Aanden takes place on the eve of the clerk's murder. All the abomination of Landen's life is revealed to him. He became a murder suspect. He rushes about in despair and finds solace in the arms of a prostitute. But once he was sincerely and purely in love with Rosie. "He could not endure a life full of those very pleasures that became more necessary to him than bread and wine ..." The
story ends gloomily.
“The life of most people is a dead road and leads nowhere. But some know from childhood that they are going to an unknown sea. And they feel the breath of the wind, wondering at its bitterness, and the taste of salt on their lips, but they still do not see the goal until they overcome the last dune, and then an endless, bubbling expanse will spread in front of them and the sand and sea foam will hit them in the face. And what remains for them? Throw into the abyss or return back ... "