Short summary - Jean Sbogar - Charles Nodier

French literature summaries - 2021

Short summary - Jean Sbogar
Charles Nodier

1807 A thirty-two-year-old widow, Mrs. Alberti, lives in Trieste with her young sister Antonia, a fragile, sad and pensive girl.

In this troubled time, when "the laws have not yet entered into force," and justice is often inactive, a gang of robbers, who call themselves "brothers of the common good", is in charge in the vicinity of the city. They are headed by a certain Jean Sbogar, endowed with a rumor of huge growth and "terrifying appearance." No one knows where he came from, but everyone agrees that he and his people are "ruthless and merciless."The sisters often walk in the grove, where local peasants usually gather to sing and dance. During one of the walks, they hear a song about Jean Sbogard. The name of the villain leaves them in awe. Returning home at dusk, they meet a young man humming a song they have just heard. The sisters are gripped by vague premonitions.

Once on a walk, Antonia, burned out by the heat, sits down to rest under a tree and falls asleep. Upon awakening, she sees two men next to her. The young stranger tells his companion about his passionate and sublime love for Antonia. Attracted by the noise, Mistress Alberti appears, and like ghosts, the unknown disappear. Madame Alberti fears that one of Jean Sbogar's henchmen will fall in love with her sister. At the mention of the terrible robber, Anthony is confused.

Antonia rarely leaves the house. Only occasionally does she go to the coast of the bay to admire the castle of Duino towering on the cliff, where, according to rumors, the gang of Jean Sbogar lives. Once at dusk, she notices how two unknown persons get into a boat and sail towards the castle. It seems to her that the voice of one of them belongs to a mysterious stranger who confessed his love for her. An inexplicable fear creeps into Antonia's soul.

Suddenly, the sisters have to leave for Venice, and both happilyroad. In an unfamiliar city, Antonia hopes to get rid of her disturbing thoughts.

On the way, the sisters are asked to give a lift to a young monk from an Armenian monastery. They agree, and a young man in monastic vestments is seated in their carriage. A hat with a large brim hides his face, but Madame Alberti manages to notice that his hands are "white and tender, like a girl's."

When the sisters drive past Duino Castle, they are attacked by robbers. Suddenly, a young monk jumps out of the carriage, disperses the bandits and, having ordered the frightened coachman to go further, disappears. Antonia finds in this incident a rich writing for her gloomy "dreamy reflections."

Arriving in Venice, both women immediately hear a story about a certain Lothario - a young man who is respected by all residents of the city, from the last beggar to an influential official and a prim aristocrat. The mysterious Aotario, endowed with many outstanding talents, does not make friends with anyone, helps the poor a lot and rarely visits the same house twice. No one knows where he comes from, or what the origin of his truly fabulous wealth is. Not only laws, but also love have no power over him.

At one of the receptions, Mrs. Alberti and Antonia meet the famous Lothario. Antonia is unusually agitated. Lothario, who possesses "extraordinary charm," takes an interest in Antonia. When asked to sing, he sings a song about Jean Sbogar. Antonia thinks that she has already heard this voice somewhere.

Lothario makes a deep impression on Antonia. Gradually, communication with him becomes a need for her, and, not yet admitting to herself, she falls in love with this mysterious, always sad, but domineering young man. Despite the mystery enveloping Lothario, Mrs. Alberti considers him worthy of her sister's hand and does her best to help them draw closer.

Once in the living room of Madame Alberti, the conversation comes about Jean Sbogard. A certain venerable old man once knew him. Originally from a noble family, in childhood this robber possessed a gentle and noble soul, and only the circumstances of his life forced him to step on the path of crime. Having abandoned his father's name, he began to be called Jean Sbogar. Aotario also ardently advocates for the rebel outlaw. Antonia listens to him as if spellbound.

Lothario confesses his love to Antonia. Antonia loves him. Shocked, Lothario leaves the city, leaving Antonia a letter, where he says that he is not worthy of her love.

Antonia realizes that there is some terrible secret hidden in Lothario's past. She finds a notebook dropped by Lothario, where he writes with indignation about the justice that reigns in the world.

Wanting to allay her sister's sadness, Mrs. Alberti takes her home. On the way, they are attacked by the robbers of Jean Sbogar, they grab Antonia and bring Duino to the castle. Ataman, a young man whose face is hidden by a mask, gives her freedom. Not wanting to leave alone, the girl is looking for her sister everywhere. Seeing the coffin with the body of Mrs. Alberti in the chapel of the castle, she goes mad. Ataman, without removing his mask, looks after Antonia.

But the robbers were captured and sentenced to death. Unhappy Antonia is placed in a monastery, where her reason gradually returns.

But Jean Sbogar was not found, and the authorities decide to show the captured robbers to Antonia - in the hope that she will identify the ataman, since she is the only one whom he spared. Among the prisoners, Antonia notices Lothario. "Lothario!" She screams. "I am Jean Sbogar!" The robber answers, and Antonia's heart breaks. Jean Sbogar goes to execution.