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Jack 1877   By: (1840-1897)

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Jack 1877 by Alphonse Daudet is a compelling historical novel set in 19th century France. This captivating tale takes readers on a journey through the life of the eponymous protagonist, Jack, a young artist struggling to find his place in a rapidly changing society.

Daudet's masterful storytelling skillfully captures the essence of the era, painting a vivid picture of the social and political climate of the time. Through Jack's eyes, the reader becomes immersed in a world plagued by economic inequality, political unrest, and artistic turmoil. The author's attention to detail and meticulous research shine through, making the historical backdrop feel authentic and believable.

One of the book's strongest aspects is its characterization. Jack, with his dreams of becoming a renowned artist, is a relatable and sympathetic protagonist. Daudet beautifully portrays his struggles and aspirations, drawing readers into his journey of self-discovery and growth. Supporting characters, such as Jack's friends and mentors, are equally well-developed, adding depth and complexity to the narrative.

The novel's pacing is another notable strength. Daudet skillfully balances moments of introspection and reflection with gripping conflicts and dramatic twists. As Jack faces numerous challenges and obstacles, the story never loses its momentum, keeping readers engaged throughout.

A recurring theme in Jack 1877 is the tension between tradition and progress. Daudet explores the clash between the old world of art, steeped in classical techniques and conventions, and the emerging avant-garde movement. This theme provides a thought-provoking examination of societal change and the impact it has on individuals.

Daudet's prose is elegant and lyrical, capturing the beauty of the French language. Though it may take some readers a little adjustment to the writing style, its richness and depth ultimately reward those who persist. The translation, although occasionally clunky, generally captures the essence of Daudet's original work.

However, despite these strengths, the novel does have its drawbacks. At times, the plot becomes convoluted, with subplots and secondary characters that detract from the main narrative. While some readers may appreciate the intricate storytelling, others may find themselves longing for a more straightforward approach.

In conclusion, Jack 1877 by Alphonse Daudet is a thought-provoking and immersive historical novel that transports readers to 19th century France. With its well-crafted characters, engaging plot, and exploration of key themes, this book offers a truly enriching reading experience. Despite occasional moments of complexity, Daudet's literary talent shines through, making this a recommended read for historical fiction enthusiasts and those interested in art and societal change.

First Page:


By Alphonse Daudet

Translated by Mary Neal Sherwood

From The Fortieth Thousand, French Edition.

Estes And Lauriat, 1877



"With a k , sir; with a k . The name is written and pronounced as in English. The child's godfather was English. A major general in the Indian army. Lord Pembroke. You know him, perhaps? A man of distinction and of the highest connections. But you understand M. l'Abbé! How deliciously he danced! He died a frightful death at Singapore some years since, in a tiger chase organized in his honor by a rajah, one of his friends. These rajahs, it seems, are absolute monarchs in their own country, and one especially is very celebrated. What is his name? Wait a moment. Ah! I have it. Rana Ramah."

"Pardon me, madame," interrupted the abbé, smiling, in spite of himself, at the rapid flow of words, and at the swift change of ideas. "After Jack, what name?"

With his elbow on his desk, and his head slightly bent, the priest examined from out the corners of eyes bright with ecclesiastical shrewdness, the young woman who sat before him, with her Jack standing at her side.

The lady was faultlessly dressed in the fashion of the day and the hour. It was December, 1858. The richness of her furs, the lustrous folds of her black costume, and the discreet originality of her hat, all told the story of a woman who owns her carriage, and who steps from her carpets to her coupé without the vulgar contact of the streets... Continue reading book >>

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