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The Aspirations of Jean Servien   By: (1844-1924)

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The Aspirations of Jean Servien by Anatole France is a captivating novel that delves deep into the mind and aspirations of its protagonist. Set against the backdrop of late 19th-century Paris, the story follows the life of Jean Servien, a dreamy and ambitious young man who yearns for distinction and success.

Anatole France masterfully captures the essence of Servien's character, allowing the readers to fully sympathize with his aspirations. Servien's longing for a higher social status drives him to make various connections and sacrifice his personal happiness. As the plot unfolds, we witness his tumultuous journey towards success, while simultaneously examining the consequences of his relentless pursuit.

The author's adept storytelling skills shine through every page, painting vivid imagery of Parisian society and Jean Servien's grandiose dreams. France's prose is sophisticated and poetic, transporting readers into the heart of 19th-century France. The attention to detail is remarkable, immersing readers into the bustling streets of Paris and the opulent salons of the elite.

Furthermore, France subtly explores themes of social mobility, class structures, and the corrupting influence of ambition. Through Jean Servien's character, the author delves into the human condition, examining the lengths individuals will go to fulfill their desires and gain societal recognition. The book offers deep insight into the psychological intricacies of ambition and the moral dilemmas it often presents.

The Aspirations of Jean Servien is not only a compelling character study, but it also serves as a reflection on the societal pressures and constraints of the time. France offers a thought-provoking critique of the limitations faced by individuals from lower social classes, showcasing the stark contrast between their aspirations and the realities of their circumstances.

One of the book's most remarkable strengths is its enduring relevance. Although set in the 19th century, the themes explored remain highly pertinent in today's meritocratic societies. The struggles and aspirations of Jean Servien remain relatable, resulting in a story that transcends time.

However, one slight drawback of this novel is its occasional slower pace, as Anatole France spends a considerable amount of time delving into the inner thoughts and musings of Jean Servien. While this serves to enhance the reader's understanding of his character, it may occasionally cause the story to drag.

In conclusion, The Aspirations of Jean Servien by Anatole France is a timeless novel that offers a profound exploration of ambition, social class, and the intricacies of human nature. France's accomplished storytelling, rich descriptions, and complex characters make this novel an engaging and thought-provoking read. It is a must-read for anyone interested in the psychological complexities of personal ambition and the societal forces that shape our aspirations.

First Page:





Jean Servien was born in a back shop in the Rue Notre Dame des Champs . His father was a bookbinder and worked for the Religious Houses. Jean was a little weakling child, and his mother nursed him at her breast as she sewed the books, sheet by sheet, with the curved needle of the trade. One day as she was crossing the shop, humming a song, in the words of which she found expression for the vague, splendid visions of her maternal ambition, her foot slipped on the boards, which were moist with paste.

Instinctively she threw up her arm to guard the child she held clasped to her bosom, and struck her breast, thus exposed, a severe blow against the corner of the iron press. She felt no very acute pain at the time, but later on an abscess formed, which got well, but presently reopened, and a low fever supervened that confined her to her bed.

There, in the long, long evenings, she would fold her little one in her one sound arm and croon over him in a hot, feverish whisper bits of her favourite ditty:

The fisherman, when dawn is nigh, Peers forth to greet the kindling sky....

Above all, she loved the refrain that recurred at the end of each verse with only the change of a word. It was her little Jean's lullaby, who became, at the caprice of the words, turn and turn about, General, Lawyer, and ministrant at the altar in her fond hopes... Continue reading book >>

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