Published in 1889, " Our heart " is one of Guy de Maupassant's best-known novels, far behind the classics "Bel ami" or "Pierre et Jean".
"Our heart" is a delightful love story or rather a love dependency of a young man named André Mariolle, towards a beautiful, young Parisian socialite Madame de Burne.
A young widow, Madame de Burne is indeed the focal point of a small male court composed of writers (Lamarthe), musicians (Massival), philosopher (De Maltry) or simple bourgeois who are waving around the beautiful in the hope of touching her good graces and getting a beautiful wedding.
But traumatized by her first husband, brutal and rude, Madame de Burne decided to enjoy her independence as a modern woman, and manoeuvres quite selfishly and diabolically the men in her entourage.
Weak, idle and unattached, Mariolle immediately fell under the perverse spell of the beautiful and quickly became a slave to an unfortunately one-way love.
Made more and more passionate by the ambiguous procrastinations of her sweetheart, Mariolle loses all sense of proportion, multiplying oral declarations of love and inflammatory letters that only flatter the already oversized ego of her target.
By her obstinacy, Mariolle manages to obtain a more privileged position than her rivals, becoming in a way a regular lover during clandestine appointments in a house in the Bois de Boulogne rented by her.
But Madame de Burne never completely abandons herself to this lover, blowing hot and cold to preserve her independence, her male papillonnages while keeping her prey in her circle of influence.
Mariolle fails to break the infernal spell and becomes the widow's toy, going from appointment to appointment (even in the provinces), waiting feverishly for written answers or promises of new appointments.
The young man's suffering reached its peak when he learned that Madame de Burne had fallen in love with a beautiful Austrian aristocrat, the Count of Bernhaus, close to the Austrian ambassador.
Feeling her love shirking and fleeing from him, Mariolle consumed herself with jealousy, seeking salvation in a retreat in Fontainebleau.
But even in the solitude and calm of splendid nature, Mariolle remains tainted by the memory of her mistress, struggling body and soul not to get damaged in the darkest melancholy.
However, there is hope when Mariolle meets Elisabeth Ledru, a young waitress from the region, who, through her gentleness, freshness and dedication, manages to ease her suffering.
Mariolle takes Elizabeth as her maid and becomes her lover.
But he nevertheless gives in to his old impulses, writing to his former muse who hastened to go to his home to reactivate this relationship from prey to predator.
The end of the novel is rather confusing, because if Mariolle gives in apparently when she comes back to Paris to be with Madame de Brune, he nevertheless takes Elisabeth with him as an antidote to poison.
In conclusion, for anyone who has experienced the torments of a powerful but unshared love, "Our heart" is a pure masterpiece.
First of all, a masterpiece of psychological analysis, with all the strength and perversity of a beautiful woman who prefers to manipulate men with a psychological profile corresponding to victim status.
The pain of a Mariolle embodying a lover ready to sink below the ground is particularly poignant, with endless expectations in icy places, letters that are watched for days with mad impatience and especially endless scaffolding of the mind around past or present situations unleashing the most burning jealousy.
One might think that Madame de Burne's difficult past somewhat attenuates her predatory nature, which she justifies by claiming to prefer an episodic relationship, without commitment but more lasting in time, to a passion that is consumed in the short term.
For my part, I do not believe in this theory.
Only the end intrigues, with a man who has apparently found a decisive remedy but who plunges back into his masochistic torment at the first opportunity.
Apart from the formidable work of Maupassant, a brilliant analyst of the human soul and its torments, "Our heart" does not shine with a clear, lively and powerful prose, magnifying the story with its brilliance.
Nothing to say, once again Maupassant dazzles with his class...
What if in the end he was the greatest French writer of all time periods?
For my part, I don't know any better.