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Paul and Virginia

Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre

Book Overview: 

Paul and Virginia are very good friends since birth who fall in love, but sadly die when the ship Le Saint-Geran is wrecked. The story is set in the island of Mauritius under French rule, then named Île de France, which the author had visited. Written on the eve of the French Revolution, the novel is hailed as Bernardin's finest work. It records the fate of a child of nature corrupted by the false, artificial sentimentality that prevailed at the time among the upper classes of France.(Summary by Wikipedia)

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .And, ah! the cruel punishment is mine!

"The amiable disposition of those children unfolded itself daily. On a Sunday, their mothers having gone at break of day to mass, at the church of the Shaddock Grove, the children perceived a negro woman beneath the plantains which shaded their habitation. She appeared almost wasted to a skeleton, and had no other garment than a shred of coarse cloth thrown across her loins. She flung herself at Virginia's feet, who was preparing the family breakfast, and cried, 'My good young lady, have pity on a poor slave. For a whole month I have wandered amongst these mountains, half dead with hunger, and often pursued by the hunters and their dogs. I fled from my master, a rich planter of the Black River, who has used me as you see;' and she showed her body marked by deep scars from the lashes she had received. She added, 'I was going to drown myself; but hearing you lived here, I said to myself, since there are still some good. . . Read More