Short summary - The Devil in Love - Jacques Cazotte - Jean-Jacques Casot (Jean-Joseph)

French literature summaries - 2021

Short summary - The Devil in Love
Jacques Cazotte - Jean-Jacques Casot (Jean-Joseph)

The story is told from the perspective of a young Spanish nobleman who almost became a victim of devilish intrigues. When Don Alvar Maravillas was twenty-five years old, he served as captain of the guard of the King of Naples. The officers often indulged in philosophical conversations, and once the conversation turned to Kabbalism: some considered it a serious science, others saw in it only a source for deceit and deception of the gullible. Don Alvar kept quiet and looked closely at the eldest of his colleagues, the Flemish Soberano. As it turned out, he had power over secret forces. Alvar wished to immediately join this great science, and to the teacher's warnings he frivolously replied that he would pull the prince of darkness himself by the ears.

Soberano invited the young man to dine with two of his friends. After the meal, the whole company went to the ruins of Portici. In a cave with a vaulted ceiling, the Fleming drew a circle with a cane, inscribed some signs in it and named the formula for the spell. Then they all went out, and Don Alvar was left alone. He was uncomfortable, but he was afraid to be branded as an empty fanfare and therefore fulfilled all the instructions, calling the name of Beelzebub three times. Suddenly, a window opened under the vault, a stream of blinding light gushed out, and the disgusting head of a camel with huge ears appeared. Opening its jaws, the ghost asked in Italian: "What do you want?" Don Alvar almost fainted at the sound of a terrible voice, but managed to control himself and spoke in such an imperative tone that the devil was embarrassed. Don Alvar ordered him to appear in a more appropriate form - for example, in the form of a dog. Then the camel extended its neck to the very center of the cave and spat out a small white spaniel with silky hair on the floor. It was a bitch, and the young man gave her the name Biondetta. By order of Alvar, a rich table was laid. Biondetta first appeared in the form of a virtuoso musician, and then - a charming page. Soberano and his companions could not hide their amazement and fright, but the young officer's audacious confidence somewhat reassured them. Then a luxurious carriage was brought to the ruins. On the way to Naples, Bernadillo (that was the name of one of Soberano's friends) suggested that Don Alvar had made an amazing deal, for no one had ever been served with such courtesy. The young man remained silent, but felt a vague alarm and decided to get rid of his page as soon as possible. Then Biondetta began to appeal to a sense of honor: a Spanish nobleman could not expel even a despicable courtesan at such a late hour, let alone a girl who sacrificed everything for him. Don Alvar conceded: having refused the services of an imaginary servant, he undressed and lay down, but he saw the page's face everywhere - even on the curtain of the bed. In vain he reminded himself of the ugly ghost - the abomination of the camel only set off the charm of Biondetta.

From these painful reflections, the bed broke, and the young man fell to the floor. When the frightened Biondetta rushed to him, he ordered her not to run around the room barefoot and in only a shirt - so it would not take long to catch a cold. The next morning, Biondetta confessed that she fell in love with Alvar for the valor displayed in the face of a terrible vision, and took on a corporeal form to connect with her hero. He is in danger: the slanderers want to declare him a necromancer and hand him over to a well-known court. They both need to flee from Naples, but first he must utter the magic formula: accept Biondetta's service and take her under his protection. Don Alvar muttered the words prompted to him, and the girl exclaimed that she would be the happiest creature in the world. The young man had to come to terms with the fact that the demon took all the travel expenses. On the way to Venice, Don Alvar fell into a kind of stupor and woke up already in the apartments of the best hotel in the city. He went to his mother's banker, and he immediately handed him two hundred zechines, which dona Mencia had sent through the equestrian Miguel Pimientos. Alvar opened the letters: his mother complained about her health and filial inattention - she did not say a word about money, due to her inherent kindness.

With relief, returning the debt to Biondetta, the young man plunged into the whirlwind of city entertainment - he in every possible way tried to stay away from the source of his temptation. Don Alvar's passion was the game, and everything went well until happiness failed him - he lost to the ground. Biondetta, noticing his upset, offered her services: reluctantly, he took advantage of her knowledge and used one simple combination, which turned out to be unmistakable. Now Alvar was always with the money, but the uneasy feeling returned - he was not sure that he would be able to remove the dangerous spirit from himself. Biondetta constantly stood before his eyes. To distract himself from thoughts of her, he began to spend time in the company of courtesans, and the most famous of them soon fell madly in love with him. Alvar sincerely tried to respond to this feeling, because he longed to free himself from his secret passion, but everything was in vain - Olympia quickly realized that she had a rival. By order of a jealous courtesan, Alvar's house was placed under surveillance, and then Biondetta received an anonymous letter with threats. Alvar was struck by the folly of his mistress: if only Olympia knew who was threatened with death! For reasons unknown to him, he could never call this creature by its true name. Meanwhile, Biondetta clearly suffered from Alvar's inattention and poured out her yearning in musical improvisations. Having overheard her song, Alvar decided to leave immediately, for the obsession was becoming too dangerous. In addition, it seemed to him that he was being watched by Bernadillo, who had once accompanied him to the ruins of Portici. The porters carried Alvar's things into the gondola, Biondetta followed, and at that moment a woman in a mask stabbed her with a dagger. The second assassin pushed aside the taken aback gondolier with a curse, and Alvar recognized Bernadillo's voice.

Biondetta was bleeding. Furious with despair, Alvar cried out for vengeance. The surgeon appeared, attracted by the screams. After examining the wounded, he announced that there was no hope. The young man seemed to have lost his mind: the adored Biondetta became a victim of his ridiculous prejudice - he took her for a deceptive ghost and deliberately exposed her to mortal danger. When the exhausted Alvar finally fell asleep, he dreamed of his mother: as if he was walking with her to the ruins of Portici, and suddenly someone was pushing him into the abyss - it was Biondetta! But then another hand caught him, and he found himself in the arms of his mother. Alvar awoke breathless with terror. Undoubtedly, this terrible dream was the product of a frustrated imagination: now there was no longer any doubt that Biondetta was a creature of flesh and blood. Alvar vowed to give her happiness if she did survive.

Three weeks later, Biondetta woke up. Alvar surrounded her with the most tender care. She quickly recovered and blossomed every day. Finally he dared to ask a question about the terrible vision in the ruins of Portici. Biondetta claimed that this was the cunning of the necromancers, plotting to humiliate and enslave Alvar. But the sylphs, salamanders and undines, admiring his courage, decided to support him, and Biondetta appeared before him in the form of a dog. She was allowed to take a bodily form for the sake of union with a sage - she voluntarily became a woman and found that she had a heart that entirely belongs to her beloved. However, without the support of Alvar, she is doomed to become the most unfortunate creature in the world.

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month passed in delightful bliss. But when Alvar said that in order to marry he needed to ask for a mother's blessing, Biondetta fell upon him with reproaches. The dejected young man decided to go to Extremadura nonetheless. Biondetta overtook him near Turin. According to her, the villain Bernadillo grew bolder after Alvar's departure and accused her of being an evil spirit guilty of kidnapping the captain of the Quardia of the King of Naples. Everyone turned away from her in horror, and with great difficulty she managed to escape from Venice. Alvar, filled with remorse, still did not give up the idea of visiting his mother. Everything seemed to hinder this intention: the carriage was constantly breaking down, the elements were raging, horses and mules alternately went into a rage, and Biondetta insisted that Alvar wanted to destroy both of them. Not far from Extremadura, the young man caught the eye of Bert, the sister of his wet nurse. This honest villager told him that dona Mencia was dying, because she could not bear the news of the terrible behavior of her son. Despite Biondetta's protests, Alvar ordered to drive to Maravillas, but then the carriage's axle burst again. Fortunately, there was a farm nearby that belonged to the Duke of Medina Sidonia. The tenant Markoe warmly greeted the unexpected guests, inviting them to take part in the wedding feast. Alvar entered into a conversation with two gypsies, who promised to tell him many interesting things, but Biondetta did everything to prevent this conversation. At night, the inevitable happened - the young man, touched by the tears of his beloved, could not free himself from the sweet embrace. The next morning, the happy Biondetta asked not to call her by a name that does not befit the devil - from now on, Beelzebub is waiting for declarations of love. Shaken, Alvar did not put up any resistance, and the enemy of the human race again took possession of him, and then appeared before him in his original form - instead of a lovely face, the head of a disgusting camel appeared on the pillow. The monster with a disgusting laugh stuck out an endlessly long tongue and in a terrible voice asked in Italian: "What do you want?" Alvar, closing his eyes, threw himself face down on the floor. When he woke up, the sun was shining brightly. Farmer Marko told him that Biondetta had already left, having paid handsomely for both of them.

Alvar got into the carriage. He was so confused that he could hardly speak. In the castle he was greeted with joy by his mother - alive and well. The unhappy young man fell at her feet and, in a fit of remorse, told about everything that had happened to him. After listening to him with surprise, the mother said that Bertha had long been bedridden with a serious illness. Dona Mencia herself did not even think of sending him money in excess of the due allowance, and the good groom Pimientos died eight months ago. Finally, the Duke of Medina Sidonia has no possessions in the places visited by Alvar. Undoubtedly, the young man fell victim to deceptive visions that enslaved his reason. The priest who was summoned at once confirmed that Alvar had escaped the greatest danger that a man could face. But there is no need to go to the monastery, for the enemy has retreated. Of course, he will try to revive the lovely vision in his memory - a legal marriage should be an obstacle to this. If the chosen one has heavenly charm and talents, Alvar will never feel the temptation to mistake her for the devil.