Short summary - The perverted peasant - Le Paysan perverti, ou Les dangers de la ville - Nicolas Restif de la Bretonne

French literature summaries - 2021

Short summary - The perverted peasant - Le Paysan perverti, ou Les dangers de la ville
Nicolas Restif de la Bretonne

Before the reader - "recent history, compiled on the basis of genuine letters of its participants."
Young Edmond R ***, the son of a wealthy peasant with many children, is taken to the city and placed as an apprentice to the artist, Mr. Parangon. The shyness of a young villager is called unkempt in the city, his festive peasant clothes are considered unfashionable, "some work" is considered shameful at all, and the owners never do them themselves, but they force him, because although he is not a servant, but obedient and agreeable, complains he is in a letter to his older brother Pierre.
But gradually Edmond gets used to city life. The mistress's cousin, the charming Mademoiselle Manon, who is in charge of the house in the absence of Madame Parangon, at first humiliates the new student in every possible way, and then begins to openly flirt with him. The maid Tienette, on the other hand, constantly encourages Edmond. Tienette is the daughter of respectable parents who fled home so that she would not be married against her will. Her lover, Monsieur Loiseau, followed her, and now lives here in the city.
Imperceptibly Edmond falls in love with Mademoiselle Manon; he dreams of marrying her. His desire coincides with the plans of Lord Parangon, for Manon is his mistress and is expecting a child from him. Having married her to a village simpleton, Mr. Parangon expects to continue to use the maiden's favor. Monsieur Godet, whom Parangon introduces Edmond, does everything to speed up the wedding.
Mistress Parangon returns; her beauty and charm make an indelible impression on Edmond.
Edmond's sister Yursul arrives in the city; Mrs. Parangon takes her under her wing and will interfere with her aunt, the venerable Mrs. Kanon. Seeing that Edmond is carried away by Mademoiselle Manon, Tienette, on behalf of Madame Parangon, reveals to him the secret of this girl's relationship with Mr. Parangon. "What a nativity scene in the city!" - Edmond is indignant.
However, his anger quickly passes: he feels that he cannot part with a city that he loves and hates at the same time. And the beautiful Manon, renouncing her delusions, assures Edmond of the sincerity of her feelings for him and, as a proof of her love, gives him the full right to dispose of her dowry. Edmond secretly marries Manon, and she goes to the monastery to be relieved of the burden there.
Edmond goes to the village to visit his parents. There he casually seduces his cousin Laura. Freethinker and libertine Godet, who became Edmond's best friend, advises him to take revenge on Mr. Parangon: to be comforted with his wife. But for now, Edmond is in awe of Mistress Parangon.
Madame Parangon does not object to Edmond having a "restrained love" for her, for she is sure that she can keep him within the proper boundaries. "Infinite respect", which Edmond has for the "ideal of beauty" - Mrs. Parangon, gradually turns into love.
A son is born to Manon, and Lord Parangon takes him to the village. Edmond confesses that he is married to Manon. Mrs. Parangon forgives her cousin and lavishes affection and attention on her, like Yursuli and Tienetge. Manon is imbued with the ideals of virtue and does not want to renew his previous relationship with Lord Parangon. “True happiness lies only in a clear conscience, in an immaculate heart,” she declares. With the assistance of Ms. Parangon, Tienette makes peace with her parents and marries Monsieur Loiseau. Yursul together with Mrs. Canon goes to Paris to improve their upbringing.
Upon learning that Edmond seduced Laura, Manon writes an angry letter to Godet, accusing him of "corrupting" Edmond, and dies. Before dying, she implores her husband to beware of friendship with Godet and the charm of her cousin, Mistress Parangon.
Mrs. Parangon goes to Paris to tell Yursuli about the grief that befell her brother. Edmond is saddened - first by the death of his wife, then - by the separation from Madame Parangon. Laura's child Edmond is born - daughter Loretta. “What a sweet name - father! Lucky elder, you will wear it without remorse, but for me natural joys, in their very source, are poisoned by crime! .. "- Edmond writes with envy to his brother, who married a modest country girl and who is waiting for the addition of the family
Godet enters into a criminal connection and takes it to the content. Taking advantage of the absence of Madame Parangon, he introduces Edmond into the society of girls "free from prejudices" and instills in him dangerous sophisms that cast him "into the abyss of unbelief and debauchery." Godet admits that he "seduced Edmond," but only because he "wished him happiness." Having learned the lessons of his mentor, Edmond, in letters to Madame Parangon, dares to reveal his passion for her. Mrs. Parangon does not like her husband who constantly cheats on her, she has been living her life for a long time, but nevertheless she wants to keep the purity of her relationship with Edmond: “Let's expel, brother, from our relationship everything that looks like a lover's. I am your sister ... ”She also warns Edmond against Godet's pernicious influence.
Edmond has a passion for Mistress Parangon. The unhappy woman, whose heart has long been filled with love for the daring villager, tries to resist their mutual attraction. "It's easier for me to die than to lose respect for you ..." - she writes to Edmond. Godet cynically advises his ward to master the "charming touchy": in his opinion, the victory over her will drive out of his heart an absurd reverence for female virtue and drain his "village slobbering"; defeating Mistress Parangon, he will become "the most charming moth fluttering in the flowers of love." And now the inflamed Edmond is committing violence against Mrs. Parangon. For several days the unfortunate victim is between life and death. When she finally comes to her senses, she irrevocably removes Edmond from herself. At the appointed hour, her daughter, Edma-Colette, is born. A letter comes from Mrs. Kanon - Yursul has been kidnapped! She "has not lost her chastity, but she has lost her innocence ..." Edmond rushes to Paris, challenges the offender-marquis to a duel, wounds him, but, having quenched his thirst for revenge, immediately bandages the wound of his opponent. While Edmond is hiding, Madame Parangon acts as his intercessor to the family of the Marquis. As a result, the old count promises to Edmond his patronage, he is accepted in the world, and the ladies, admiring his beauty, rush to order his portraits for him.
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Edmond remains in Paris. At first he does not like the city for its vanity, but gradually he gets used to life in the capital and begins to find an inexplicable charm in it. By influencing Edmond's mind, Godet extinguishes his religious feelings. “A natural person knows no other good than his own benefit and safety, he sacrifices everything around him; it is his right; this is the right of all living beings, ”Godet instructs his young friend.
Yursuli has a son, the Marquis wants to legitimize him by marrying her even against the will of the family. Yursul rejects his offer, but agrees to give the baby to be raised by the parents of the marquis. The old count quickly marries his son to a wealthy heiress.
Former contenders for Yursul's hand refuse her, fearing that her adventure will receive publicity. Indignant at his sister, Edmond tries to keep her on the path of decency, but he himself goes into entertainment, visits affordable girls of the lowest class. Godet, who has “some views” on Edmond, reproaches his friend: “a man who has overcome prejudices” should by no means lose his head and indulge in meaningless pleasures.
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kidnapper of Yursuli introduces Edmond to his young wife, and she orders him her portrait. They soon become lovers. Godet approves of this connection: a young aristocrat can be useful for Edmond's career.
Yursul falls in love with a certain Laguash, "a man without means and without any merit," and runs away from home with him. Having achieved his goal, the villain immediately abandons her. Having tasted the fruits of debauchery, Yursul agrees to become the kept woman of the marquis, who is still in love with her. Moreover, she asks for the consent of his wife and even offers to share with her the money that her lover gives her. The perverse marquise is delighted with the ingenuity and cynicism of a recent villager. Guided by Gode, Yursul becomes an expensive courtesan and seduces his own brother for fun. Edmond is shocked.
Yursul reaches the extreme point of fall: ruined and disgraced by one of the lovers she rejected, she marries a water-carrier. Indignant Edmond kills Laguash - the main, in his opinion, the culprit of his sister's misfortunes.
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Edmond goes down: lives in the attic, visits disgusting dens. In one of these establishments, he meets Yursul. The water-bearer abandoned her, she finally mired in the basest debauchery and, in addition, contracted a bad disease. On the advice of Godet, Edmond puts her in an orphanage.
Completely discouraged, Edmond is also mired in base debauchery. Godet, who had difficulty finding him, tries to cheer him up. "Take up your art again and renew your connection with Mistress Parangon," he advises.
Young courtesan Zephyra falls in love with Edmond. By marrying a wealthy elder Trismegistus, she hopes to take advantage of his fortune for the benefit of her beloved. Soon Zephyra informs her husband that she is expecting a child from Edmond; Mr. Trismegist is ready to recognize the future baby. Touched Zephyra takes the path of virtue, and, although her soul is filled with love for Edmond, she remains faithful to her noble husband. Wishing well for her former lover, she persuades him to unite with his loving Mistress Parangon, who was recently widowed. Late: Godet finds a wife for Edmond - a disgusting, but rich old woman, and he, having parted with Laura, marries her no less ugly granddaughter. Once married, both women make wills in favor of their husbands.
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Mrs. Parangon, having found Yursul, takes her from the shelter. Zephyra has a son; she meets Mrs. Parangon.
Under the guise of treatment, Godet poisons his wife and Edmond's wife. Accused of murder, Edmond and Godet resist the guards who appear to arrest them; Edmond accidentally injures Zephyra.
At the trial, Godet, wishing to save his friend, takes all the blame on himself. He is sentenced to death, and Edmond is sentenced to ten years in hard labor and chopping off his hand.
The widowed marquis again invites Yursuli to marry him in order to legitimize his son. With the approval of Mrs. Parangon, Yursul accepts the offer. Edmond, who has served his sentence, eludes his waiting friends and sets off to wander: he visits the graves of his parents, admires his brother's children from afar. Seeing Yursul in the carriage of the Marquis, he decides that his sister has again embarked on the path of vice, and stabs her. Upon learning of his tragic mistake, Edmond becomes desperate. There is a rumor that he is no longer alive.
Suddenly, in the church of the village where Edmond's brother Pierre lives, a picture appears: a man who looks like the ill-fated Edmond stabs a woman surprisingly reminiscent of Yursul. Nearby are two more women who resemble Zephyra and Mistress Parangon. "Who could have brought this picture if not the Unfortunate One himself?" - asks Pierre.
Mrs. Parangon's daughter and Zephyra's son, by mutual inclination, marry. Zephyra receives a letter of repentance from Edmond: “Carry me, oh all of you who loved me, abhor my feelings! Despise the shadow of a person who has outlived himself, and most importantly, learn that all the losses he recently suffered were not his fault, but were the result of his former licentiousness. " Repentant Edmond calls to protect children, whose birth was associated with a crime. alas, his warning was belated: from the incestuous relationship of Edme-Colette and Zephyrin, two sons were already born.
Answering the call of Mrs. Parangon, the crippled Edmond appears to his former lover, and they finally get married.
But Edmond's happiness is short: soon he falls under the wheels of a carriage in which Yursuli's son is traveling with his young wife, and dies in terrible agony. The inconsolable Lady Parangon dies after him.
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“Crime does not go unpunished. Manon, as well as Mr. Parangon, were punished with a painful illness, Gode's punishment turned out to be even more severe, the right hand of the Most High punished Yursul; a highly esteemed person was grieved by a person she loved; Edmond himself, rather weak than criminal, received according to his deeds; the marquis and his first wife fell under the blows of the scourge of the exterminating angel. God is just. "
Struck by a fatal illness, Zephyren dies. Upon learning that her husband was her brother at the same time, Edme-Colette passed away, entrusting the children to Uncle Pierre.
Fulfilling the last will of Mrs. Parangon and Zephyra, Pierre is building an exemplary village for the descendants of the R *** clan. “Taking into account how detrimental to morality it is to stay in the city”, the founders of the settlement forbid the members of the R *** family from living in the city forever.