Short summary - Florville and Courval
Marquis de Sade
With this work, the author wants to convince the reader that "only in the darkness of the grave is a person able to find peace", because "the irrepressibility of passions" and "the inevitability of fate" "will never give him peace on earth."
Kurval, a wealthy gentleman of about fifty, decides to marry a second time. The first wife left him in order to indulge in debauchery, the son followed the example of the mother, and the daughter died in infancy. Friends introduce Curval to Mademoiselle de Florville, a thirty-six-year-old girl who leads an impeccable lifestyle. True, Florville never knew her parents, and no one knows who they are. In early adolescence, she had a love affair, from which a child was born, but the baby then disappeared somewhere. However, such information does not bother Kurval, and, having met the girl, he immediately proposes to her. But Florville demands that Curval first listen to her story and only then seek her hand.
Florville, who is considered by all to be a relative of the venerable M. de Saint-Pras, was thrown under his door as a baby, and he raised her like his own child. When Florville was sixteen years old, Monsieur de Saint-Pras, so as not to violate decency, sent the girl to the province to her sister, so that she would look after her. With the approval of her sister Saint-Pra, a person of very free morals, Florville accepted the courtship of the young officer Senval. Ardent Senval was good-looking, Florville fell in love with him and in the end gave him the color of her youth. After a while, her son was born, and she hoped that her lover would marry her. But he took the child and disappeared. The inconsolable Florville returned to Paris to Saint-Pra and confessed everything to him. The indulgent Saint-Pras, having chided the girl, sent her to his - this time pious - relative, Madame de Laurence. But even here Florville was in danger. At the request of a friend, Madame de Laurens brought young Saint-Ange into the house, so that "virtuous examples would contribute to the formation of his soul." Saint-Ange fell in love with Florville, although she did not reciprocate. He pursued her everywhere and one night, bursting into her bedroom, forcibly took possession of her. Escaping from his embrace, an angry Florville stabbed him with needlework scissors. The blow struck the heart, and Saint-Ange died immediately.
Madame de Laurens has settled the sad consequences of the case. Florville went to Paris to Saint-Pra. At a roadside hotel, she witnessed a murder, and on the basis of her testimony, an elderly woman who had killed her friend went to the scaffold. In Paris, following Florville's wishes, Saint-Pras helped her settle at the holy monastery, where she lives now, spending her days in pious pursuits and prayers.
After listening to Florville's confession, Curval continues to insist on their marriage, for, in his opinion, Florville is not guilty of her misfortunes.
And now Florville becomes Kurval's wife, they are already waiting for the heir, when suddenly Kurval's prodigal son from his first wife appears and tells the story of his misadventures.
After leaving his father, he joined the regiment and soon rose to the rank of officer. In a provincial town, he seduced a certain noble girl, and she gave birth to a child from him. Out of cowardice, he abandoned the girl and fled to Italy, taking his son with him. When his son grew up, he sent him to France to improve his upbringing, where he fell in love with a charming girl. Wishing to "take by force what he was denied" by that virtuous person, his son received a blow in the chest, which became fatal for him. In despair from the death of his son, he went to travel. On the way, he met a criminal sentenced to death and recognized her as his mother. He got a meeting with her, and his mother told him that she was convicted on the basis of the testimony of a certain noble young lady, who was the only witness to her crime. To top it off, his mother revealed a secret to him: it turns out that he has a sister. When she was born, her mother, wanting to inheritance son got completely deceived her husband, saying that the girl died, but in fact it has thrown a certain Monsieur de Saint-Pra ...
At these words the poor Florvil rises and horror cries out to Kurval's son: "Do you recognize me, Senval, recognize in me at the same time your sister, the girl seduced by you, the murderer of your son, your father's wife and the disgusting creature that brought your mother to the scaffold ..." And rushing to the pistol Senval, she grabs him, shoots herself and falls, bleeding.
After the death of Florville, M. de Courval falls seriously ill, but the worries of his son bring him back to life. “But both of them, after so many cruel blows of fate,” decide to retire to a monastery.