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Set in the Baltic provinces in the aftermath of World War I, Coup de Grace tells the story of an intimacy that grows between three young people hemmed in by civil war: Erick, a Prussian fighting with the White Russians against the Bolsheviks; Conrad, his best friend from childhood; and Sophie, whose unrequited love for Conrad becomes an unbearable burden....

Title : Coup de Grâce
Author :
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ISBN : 9780374516314
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 151 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Coup de Grâce Reviews

  • Cheryl
    2018-11-18 14:49

    Love had made her a glove in my hands, of a texture both supple and strong.Espresso, another cup of espresso, and more espresso, as I read this book. The title of the book says everything you need to know. This is one book that didn't attempt to pull me in, as the first few pages are story stilts, but just when I thought I knew where its texture and narrator were taking me, it yanked me by the hair, surprised the hell out of me and quite frankly, made me a bit uneasy. Why read another war novel of despair after just having read Zweig's The Post-Office Girl? I'm not sure. I've always wanted to sample Marguerite Yourcenar's works and this was an easier, shorter avenue. Besides, there is more to this than war; there is love and bond, even when love becomes an additional wound. And there are those distilling moments of contemplation, when Erick tenderly presents imagery of Sophie, a woman who desperately loved him, but one whose love he could not return:In the glass were reflected the eyes of a child, or of an angel, perhaps; the face was broad with contours not sharply defined, like earth itself in spring, a region of fields gently sloping, traversed by streams of tears; the cheeks had the tint of sunlight on snow and the lips's pale rose almost made one tremble; her hair was as blond as those light golden loaves of good bread that we saw no more.This Sophie reminds me of the Sophie in Styron's Sophie's Choice, one whose world around her shatters and soon, she becomes one of the shards. Really, what can I say about this plot of layered despair except that I could hardly concentrate on Erick's stoic narration, I barely was able to uncover Conrad's motives (perhaps because he chose to live through his books, ignorant of many things occurring around him), and I only wanted to see Sophie illuminated? The prose is elegant and occurs in mouthfuls of expertly arranged words that at times are lyrical, and there in the background, there is Sophie, occurring through Erick's recollections: a woman in love with a man undeserving, a woman symbolic of the civil war occurring, a woman who must sacrifice everything she knows to fight for everything she believes.

  • Steve
    2018-11-10 19:31

    Marguerite Yourcenar (1903-1987)Elle était trop jeune pour se douter que l'existence n'est pas faite d'élans subits et constance obstinée, mais de compromissions et oublis.()Based upon actual incidents, Marguerite Yourcenar's short novel Le Coup de grâce (1939) is, despite all the trappings of the setting in western Latvia during the 1919 war between the Bolshevists and their many enemies, a close and claustrophobic examination of a ménage à trois consisting of Eric, the narrator, and the siblings, Conrad and Sophie, that could not but remind me of Jean Cocteau's Les Enfants terribles, published a decade earlier. The vectors of desire within the threesomes differ, but the cruelty, obsession and co-dependence of the characters are very similar in these two books, as is the growing presence of death at the core of the relationships.Though the relation never crosses the line so firmly drawn by church and state at that time (a line which, I am grateful to be able to say, is passing from absolute to derisory during my lifetime), Eric and Conrad form the central pair and Sophie is the self-sacrificing satellite.(*) Nonetheless, to my mind it is Sophie who is the central character. Not only does she occupy the narrator more than anybody or anything else, but it is her love, commitment, desperation, despair and, finally, rebellion that give shape to the narrative and lead to the final, terrible scene. The accompanying story of the war in the Baltics is not entirely essential, but it does add another layer of fated darkness to the trio's tragedy as Eric and Conrad fight their doomed battle against the Bolschevists while European governments, exhausted by the War to End All Wars, increasingly erect obstacles to the logistical support of the anti-Bolshevists. Conrad is nearly a cypher of purity, Eric is lucid, distant and solitary, while Sophie is self-destructive and desperate; all are doomed. Yourcenar has produced a tale that is every bit as dark as Cocteau's - if not quite as distilled, as honed to a fine and exact point of concentration - and told with penetrating psychological finesse.() She was too young to suspect that existence is not made of sudden elans and obstinate constancy, but of compromises and disrememberings.(*) In Les Enfants terribles the siblings, Paul and Elisabeth, formed the binary system whose satellite was Gérard.

  • Hadrian
    2018-10-29 13:27

    This was a passionate and intense historical novella from one of my favorite authors. I can say I enjoyed it, but I can also say that if Erick had not been so repressed and just boned Conrad then everyone else involved would have been better off.

  • Luís C.
    2018-11-03 13:49

    A short and masterful novel by Marguerite Yourcenar inspired by a true story.In 1919, in a Baltic country caught up in the violence of a civil war linked to the Russian revolution three privileged young people live a love story, a passion akin to tragedy. This is Eric, a young officer, who tells the external conditions and tries to explain, with subjectivity sometimes past events.A story which portrays complex beings whose sentimental aspirations do not necessarily fall in line, meeting face dangers similar to their intransigence but to different political stripes. Almost detail that will lead to the final drama, a final blow without hate.

  • Matthew
    2018-10-21 19:48

    Devastating. Utterly devastating. The novel succeeds as a war story, as a love story, and as a portrait of its protagonist, Erick, a young man – “one of those men who were too young in 1914 to have done more than brush with danger, but who were transformed into soldiers of fortune by Europe’s post-war disorder...” (pg. 4) – a Prussian fighting with the White Russians in the civil war against the Bolsheviks (a civil war about which I knew little), fighting alongside his best friend, Conrad – “The country folk took us for brothers, a simple solution for those who have no conception of ardent friendship...” (pg. 14) – at times defending his own village, which seems to be captured and reclaimed several times in the course of the narrative, to dramatic effect, and, in turn, defending Conrad’s sister, Sophie, or defending himself the affection shown to him by Sophie, the only danger he cannot comprehend in wartime, a time that calls for him to be hardened, and so he must remain hardened, even against Sophie’s affection, which threatens to soften him and make him vulnerable.The love story is perhaps the cruelest I’ve ever read, punctuated by the cruelties of war. And yet this story resonated deeply with me, perhaps because I’m jaded about “love”. I haven’t read many stories that compare. Perhaps VICTORIA by Knut Hamsun? But the context of the love is drastically different, focusing on class rather than war. The roles, too, are reversed: Where the Erick rejects Sophie in COUP DE GRACE, Johannes is rejected by Victoria. But the tone of their love – the back and forth, the rejection and imploring, the absence of synchronicity... – in this way the stories are comparable (and in their length, I suppose, but that’s a superficial comparison). At times, the story reminded me of JULES AND JIM by Henri-Pierre Roché. I cannot help but compare Erick to Jim, Conrad to Jules, and Sophie to Kate. The First World War plays a significant role in both stories. In JULES AND JIM, the titular characters fight on opposing sides. The war itself, however, is reduced to one chapter. I cannot help that if the story of JULES AND JIM were to be told amidst the war, and that that one chapter were to be expanded, it would look something like COUP DE GRACE (albeit less cruel, less cynical).There is a precision on the author’s prose that I admired. The text is not overly descriptive, but the author often takes care to clarify details when it is absolutely necessary, as in the case where Sophie, reminded by Erick of her brother Conrad, says, “Oh, Conrad.” The author elaborates...“...with a note of infinite weariness in her voice, and with such apparent indifference to her brother’s fate that I wondered if she had begun to loathe him. But she had simply reached that state of utter exhaustion where nothing counted any more, and she had ceased to worry about the safety of those nearest to her, just as she had ceased to look to Lenin as a leader.” (pg. 73)The phraseI appreciated the literary references that were peppered throughout COUP DE GRACE...“...she passed her time reading Buddhist scripture, or the poems of Rabindranath Tagore.” (pg. 10)“...a poet cut to the pattern of T. S. Eliot or Jean Cocteau, and frequenting Berlin bars.” (pg. 14)“His evenings were spent in scribbling verse, in feeble imitation of Rilke.” (pg. 18)“On the other hand, he did have a copy of Rilke’s Book of Hours...” (pg. 137)The characters have depth, they have favourite poets, they attempt to write poetry themselves... They may be caught in the fray of a tragic war, but they still have rich inner lives. Perhaps this is least true of the narrator, who admits to his lack of “purity”, who remarks in the early chapters of the book...“Perhaps I am generalizing from a wholly individual case of moral impotency: of all the men I know I am least disposed to seek out ideological incitements in order to love or hate my fellow beings; it is only for causes in which I do not believe that I have been willing to risk my life.” (pg. 9)Perhaps I should rephrase... It is not the absence of a “rich inner life” that separates the narrator, but an aversion from the arts, from love, from any kind of transcendence that would enable him to escape, if only temporarily, from the horrors of war; it is this aversion that betrays the depravity of our narrator.

  • Richard Derus
    2018-11-14 17:28

    Rating: 3.5* of fiveThe Book Report: Told in the first person past perfect, this tale of three young people caught in a highly hormonal passage of their lives at the same moment as the Russian Revolution overthrows the privileged existences they'd led until that time purports to be the memory of Erick von Lhomond as he sits in a train station cafe, on his way to who knows where after his career as a soldier of fortune has led to a wounding in the Spanish Civil War then newly ended. Erick recalls his love for sibling aristos Conrad and Sophie, children of the Count of Reval, and his cousins. Sophie falls in love with him; he and Conrad are already involved. Triangle collapses, the two siblings die, and cowardly, contemptible Erick soldiers on. It's all in the hows, as life so often is when one is young; now, in the fullness of his wasted years, Erick is seeing the whys, and they're keeping him up nights. And not a moment too soon, ask me.My Review: récit (French: “narrative” or “account”) a brief novel, usually with a simple narrative line; studiedly simple but deeply ironic tales in which the first-person narrator reveals the inherent moral ambiguities of life by means of seemingly innocuous reminiscences.It's a very French narrative form, is the récit, the novella's Goth cousin, all chains and weird makeup effects and scary-looking hair. It's perfect for telling this sort of moralizing by a man with no morals tale, and there aren't that many English-language writers willing to do this without oodles of padding and the crutch of multiple characters. Yourcenar, whose Memoirs of Hadrian lives as one of my all-time favorite reads, tackled this difficult task in 1939, before WWII's official starting gun. She was quite clearly aware that war was inevitable and imminent, and wrote this tale as a protest against the further damage inevitable in a war.The ending of the book, stark and violent and horrfying, sums up the expectations of this Belgian survivor of the First World War, and they were not in the least bit too dark or pessimistic.I found the casual, unremarked-on anti-Semitism of the book jarring. I know it was a part of the culture Yourcenar lived in, but it hasn't aged well. I wasn't very impressed with the narrator's casual, caddish sexuality either...Conrad could certainly have done better, and Sophie's awakening has such tragic consequences that it makes one doubt the sanity of the child (she's sixteen to Conrad's and Erick's twenty during the brief span covered by this book).Recommended? Well, on the whole, no. It's not a casual book, and it would offer too few thrills for most people in the modern audience. For me, I'm glad I read it, but I won't re-read it ever.

  • Liviu
    2018-11-07 18:40

    Long time ago the two famous M. Yourcenar novels (Memoirs of Hadrian, Abyss) were huge favorites I used to read often, though I haven't looked at them in probably 25 years, maybe more, so i have no idea how they would read today; so when this book came to my attention by chance a few days ago and I liked the excerpt, I ordered a copy and as it's a short book, I actually managed to finish it in two days - funnily, I got a very annotated copy seemingly by someone for some study (it's a 1990's edition so i found it interesting someone actually studied it fairly recently as the book is written in the late 30's, published in the 50's and it shows in many ways ) and I enjoyed reading the pencil hand written notes alongside the text tooThis being said and noting the blurb above is utterly wrong as Sophie is Conrad's sister and she has an unrequited passion for the narrator Erick actually, while he is more into Conrad though in the 30's tradition (and like in the Memoirs of Hadrian) there is no overt sexuality between the two men and Erick's inclinations are only hinted, it is definitely a book of its timesThere are other ways in which the book shows its age (the sometimes over the top writing, the German aristocrat soldier hero narrator who had just returned wounded from fighting alongside Franco's forces in 1938 when he tells this tale of his younger years in the 1919-1921 war against Bolshevism in the Baltic states), while the novel is more of an old fashioned psychological tale where the war and death (symbolized so well in the 3 person bridge games, Erick, Conrad and Sophie play nightly on the siblings' Baltic estate - now a White force base on the front-line and where their soldiers and comrades die constantly under fire, while Bolshevik prisoners are also executed daily - with the dummy - "le mort - the dead" in French - getting the name of one of the corresponding day's dead) is a background that frames the over the top emotions of the narrator and of Sophie whose trauma early in the war leads to her fixation on the first "eligible man" (Erick is a poor aristocrat as his father lost their estates and money in gambling and prostitutes before dying conveniently on the front in France in 1915, but he is an aristocrat nonetheless, while Sophie and Conrad's relatives have recently been shot by the Bolsheviks in Riga) or at least this being how Erick intellectualizes Sophie's attraction to him, while he would rather be with Conrad all the time after allEminently readable and with the conclusion mentioned by Erick a few times across the narration, so with no particular twists or turns except in the intensity of the language, but the really old fashioned feel of the book shows too much for it too be one of my memorable reads; still a page turner that kept me interested till the end

  • Jim Coughenour
    2018-10-23 20:50

    One is always trapped, somehow, in dealings with women.A curious remark, given that it's stated by an executioner, a man involved in an oblique love triangle (the speaker's in love with the brother of a woman who hopelessly loves him), who is in fact a character invented by the severe French lesbian Marguerite Yourcenar. This short novel is a long monologue, the painful confession of a blighted life – and this reader ached for the coup de grace long before it came.Edmund White describes Yourcenar's Coup de Grace as "perhaps her strongest piece of fiction." It's many years since I read Memoirs of Hadrian, but I remember that book as being more impressive. This book does indeed possess a kind of cheerless hauteur, but it has the feel of a period piece. Still, there's something intriguing to me about novels with a gay protagonist written by women. I always think of Mary Renault in this connection, who like Yourcenar crafted an impressive career out of such strong characters.

  • Jeremy
    2018-11-04 21:22

    Yourcenar can write seemingly anything. Just as in 'Memoirs of Hadrian', her ability to invent voices out of the past and to make them believable and sympathetic is phenomenal. Only people like Patrick Leigh Fermor, Umberto Eco, and Jonathan Littell write with such a total command of european history and geography.This is a VERY 19th century short novel about one small corner of the Russian Civil War. Yourcenar's narration of the life of a young White Russian solider, his friendships and ultimately tragic love interests, feels like something that could just as easily have been written in 1839 as 1939, when it was published. It's very heavily narrated in the way that novels from the previous century are, but somehow that anachronism makes it all the more poignant. Yourcenar shows the transition from the old Europe of noblesse oblige and genteel manners to the new Europe of modern warfare and pitiless ideological struggle. A short read to make you sigh and look out the window on a rainy day.

  • Rosalba
    2018-11-07 16:40

    Al punto in cui sono, poco importa quale dei due dia o riceva la morte… Un racconto drammatico, forse di più perché sappiamo trattarsi di una storia vera. Una vicenda che si snoda durante la guerra civile in Curlandia, all’inizio degli anni ’20, quando la Germania tenta in ogni modo di bloccare la presa di potere da parte dei bolscevichi. Fra i tre protagonisti, Eric e i due fratelli, Corrado e Sofia, costretti a vivere a stretto contatto e a condividere le ristrettezze richieste dalla guerra, si crea un triangolo di ambiguità. Da un lato una amicizia, che ha più il sapore di una omosessualità repressa, e dall’altra un amore offerto e duramente negato. Situazioni che alla fine generano incomprensioni, odio e tradimento, un desiderio di vendetta che culmina in un finale tragico e definitivo, crudele come del resto è la guerra.

  • Teresa Proença
    2018-11-15 16:45

    "A amizade é, acima de tudo, certeza - é isso o que a distingue do amor. É também respeito, e aceitação total de um outro ser."Prefácios e Introduções só leio após terminar o livro porque, geralmente, revelam demasiado do enredo e retiram-me o prazer da surpresa. Neste livro, a excelente introdução de Agustina Bessa-Luis é uma análise detalhada do romance que inclui o resumo do enredo. Vale a pena ler, mas no final. Relativamente ao romance, a magnífica prosa de Marguerite Yourcenar não foi suficiente para me emocionar com os trágicos destinos dos três jovens protagonistas.

  • Giovanna
    2018-11-03 13:22

    Un uomo che confessa la propria storia con una freddezza e una lucidità quasi crudeli. Una storia di amore e disperazione e di morte senza speranza.Come tutti i libri della Yourcenar da leggere con attenzione. Molto commovente e triste, la storia si svolge in un paesaggio freddo e grigio,mentre una guerra incombe. Le vite dei tre protagonisti si intrecciano,senza raggiungere un equilibrio ,fino a che la scena finale della storia darà una soluzione definitiva e drammatica alle questioni mai risolte. So di esser stata molto vaga, ma mi piacerbbe che qualcuno si incuriosisse e lo leggesse questo bel romanzo.

  • Lobstergirl
    2018-11-18 19:45

    In Lithuania during the Russian Civil War (after WWI), three young Prussian aristocrats fight their passions, their ennui, the Bolsheviks, and Yourcenar's staggering usage of colons and semicolons. Needless to say, the punctuation defeats everyone. This is a very violent novella. Life has little value. In addition to a rape (off scene) there's a slap, a bullet to the stomach, and an execution. Oh, and a little dog is killed by a grenade. This is my first Yourcenar so I don't know yet if her punctuation threatens all her work.

  • Maria Beltrami
    2018-11-07 15:45

    La Yourcenar è sicuramente uno dei miei scrittori preferiti, le sue Memorie di Adriano, o l'Opera al nero, sono semplicemente straordinari. C'è da dire però che nemmeno i grandi scrittori nascono grandi. La loro grandezza si può intuire, ma nelle opere giovanili spesso è più evidente la forma perfetta, così perfetta da essere persin aliena, che una vera ispirazione narrativa.

  • Eric
    2018-11-04 19:22

    But the final scene is shocking in its perfection.

  • Kirsty
    2018-11-14 17:45

    I chose Belgian author Marguerite Yourcenar's Coup de Grace for the Latvia component of my Around the World in 80 Books challenge. Some of the sentences within this short novel were long and complex, but rather than detract from my enjoyment of the book, I found that the prose was all the richer for this. Yourcenar reminded me somewhat of Andre Gide at times, an author whom I discovered last year and very much enjoy. My criticism of the book, and one of the reasons as to why I can only award it three out of five stars, comes with regard to the setting; Latvia is high on my travel list, and I was looking forward to learning more about it before I plan my trip. The setting, for the most part, is a secondary concern; Yourcenar essentially provides a detailed character study which could be transplanted to many other cities, and many other time periods, without much having to be changed. Whilst I did enjoy immersing myself within Coup de Grace, I'm not sure that I'll actively seek out Yourcenar's other work just yet; I imagine that it may be something of a slog.

  • João
    2018-10-26 21:44

    Comprei este livro com expetativas elevadas. Tinha ainda fresco na memória "De olhos abertos: conversas com Matthieu Galey" e "Memórias de Adriano" está no meu top5! No entanto, até à página 70 andei razoavelmente aborrecido e não estava a ver a coisa bem encaminhada (curiosamente, o mesmo me aconteceu com as Memórias, que só li à segunda tentativa). Foi então que uma cena de grande dramatismo, escrita magistralmente, me bateu forte! Eric (o narrador) recorda uma noite gelada de inverno, de bombardeamento aéreo, em que um quadrado de luz se recorta na varanda de Sophie. Eric sobe para fechar a janela e falam com uma intensidade emocional e uma proximidade a que nunca tinham chegado antes. Uma bomba cai junto da casa e, depois de escaparem à morte, ela atira-se para os braços dele e beijam-se. Eric reflete, mais tarde, sobre o que aconteceu: "Agora que ela está morta, e que deixei de acreditar em milagres, estou contente por ter beijado ao menos uma vez aquela boca e aqueles cabelos ásperos. Daquela mulher, semelhante a um grande país conquistado em que nunca entrei, recordo, em todo o caso, o exato grau de tepidez da sua saliva naquele dia e o odor da sua pele cheia de vida. E se alguma vez tivesse podido amar Sophie em toda a simplicidade dos sentidos e do coração, teria sido naquele minuto em que ambos possuíamos uma inocência de ressuscitados". No entanto, "Não sei em que momento a delícia se transformou em horror (...) Arranquei-me a Sophie com uma selvajaria que deverá ter parecido cruel aquele corpo que a felicidade tornava indefeso. Ela reabriu as pálpebras e viu estampada no meu rosto qualquer coisa sem dúvida mais insuportável que o ódio ou que o terror, pois recuou, tapou o rosto com o cotovelo erguido, como uma criança esbofeteada, e foi essa a última vez que os meus olhos a viram chorar". E daqui em diante foi tudo "horrivelmente" bom... e mais não conto!A não ser que a homossexualidade de Eric, nunca mencionada pela autora ou comentada por ele mesmo como narrador, parece evidente: não só por não ter aceite o amor, nem o corpo de Sophie, que ela lhe ofereceu abertamente primeiro e depois indiretamente, pelo ciúme; não só porque Eric desdenhava as prostitutas e a experiência sexual que teve com uma foi claramente insatisfatória; mas sobretudo pelo indestrutível amor que sentia pelo Conrad, amor que aparentava ser muito mais que fraterno, embora talvez nem Eric se apercebesse disso. Excelente!

  • Thomas Hübner
    2018-11-16 16:40

    http://www.mytwostotinki.com/?p=2700Coup de Grâce is a short novel by Marguerite Yourcenar, published a few months before the outbreak of WWII. It is the account of the tragic relationship of three people, told by one of them in retrospect.Erich von Lhomond, the narrator, is a German officer of the Legion Condor who was wounded in the Spanish Civil War and is recovering in Italy which gives him an opportunity to look back at events that happened briefly after WWI, and that had a lasting impact on his life.Erich and his close childhood friend Conrad took part in the fighting in the Baltics in 1919 between the Red and the Czarist Army; the so-called White Russians were supported in this civil war by German Freikorps (in which Erich and Conrad serve as officers), paramilitary groups with strong nationalist, anti-communist, and frequently anti-Semitic convictions (many later Nazi leaders served in Freikorps units); the situation was rather complex since there were already independent states in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania who were caught somehow in between. The fighting in the Baltics with its atrocities, summary executions of prisoners, or massacres of people who were just suspected of being sympathetic to the other side foreshadowed in many respects what was to come about twenty years later. It is despite its great importance for the understanding of the history of this century a today almost forgotten episode.The action of the biggest part of the book takes place in Kratovice, the castle-like family home of Conrad and his sister Sophie whom Erich and Conrad meet again after a long time. In their youth and adolescence, the three of them formed a very close triangle, and they used to share their thoughts, dreams, and secrets. But the war and their growing-up has changed things between them. While Erich and Conrad share a homoerotic attachment to each other, Sophie falls in love with Erich and declares her feelings very openly to him – but Erich is not responding to her feelings.Yourcenar focuses on the development of the relationship of these three young people, that are tormented by their feelings and also the political situation. An additional complication is the fact that Sophie has sympathies for the Reds, and doesn’t hide it. After being rejected by Erich, she starts a number of short affairs with other soldiers, probably in the hope to arouse Erich’s jealousy. But Erich keeps his calm at least on the outward. Only once, after another compromising short affair of Sophie, he gives her a dressing-down that destroys her last hopes in ever arousing serious interest in her:“Toutes les réponses eussent été bonnes, sauf celle sur quoi je trébuchai par irritation, par timidité, par hâte de blesser en retour. Il y a au fond de chacun de nous un goujat insolent et obtus, et ce fut lui qui riposta:- Les filles de trottoir n'ont pas à se charger de la police des mœurs, chère amie.”“All responses would have been good except the one on which I stumbled by irritation, by shyness, by aiming to hurt back. Deep within each of us there is an insolent and obtuse bounder, and it was he who replied:- Pavement princesses do not have to take on the vice squad, dear friend.”This moment seems to mark the turning point of Sophie’s feelings; she is soon leaving Kratovice without giving note to anyone, obviously with the intention to join the Reds.What follows is the evacuation of Kratovice and the withdrawal of Erich’s unit, skirmishes in which Conrad is mortally wounded, and a truly breathtaking last meeting of Erich and Sophie who has been taken prisoner. I prefer not to reveal more of the story here, but the title of the book gives already away a lot.This short novel is in my opinion one of the really great works of French 20th Century literature. There are many reasons to consider this book as at least very remarkable.One reason is the intelligent choice of the central “hero” of the book. The narrator and main character Erich is an ambiguous and therefore interesting character. With his refined and chivalrous manners and his interest in literature and art he is not the heel-clicking stereotype of a German soldier you can see in many Hollywood movies, but probably a more typical example of the old Prussian military elite that was predominantly of French-Huguenot origin.Although being historically on the “wrong” side – being part of the military machinery that was responsible for the rise of fascism in Europe and other parts of the world – he is an intelligent man able of introspection and empathy. That is self-evident in his relations with Sophie, but also in his opinion about Grigori Loew, the man with which Sophie was living while siding with the Reds. Loew is a Jew and convinced communist, but nevertheless Erich thinks more highly of him than of most his own brothers in arms:"...il avait sur lui un exemplaire du Livre d'Heures de Rilke, que Conrad aussi avait aimé. Ce Grigori avait été probablement le seul homme dans ce pays et à cette époque avec qui j'aurais pu causer agréablement pendant un quart d'heure. Il faut reconnaître que cette manie juive de s'élever au-dessus de la friperie paternelle avait produit chez Grigori Loew ces beaux fruits psychologiques que sont le dévouement à une cause, le goût de la poésie lyrique, l'amitié envers une jeune fille ardente, et finalement, le privilège un peu galvaudé d'une belle mort." "... he had a copy of the Book of Hours of Rilke with him, that Conrad also had loved. This Grigori had probably been the only man in this country and at that time with whom I could have conversed nicely for a quarter of an hour. It has to be recognized that this Jewish obsession to rise above his father's thrift had produced at Grigori Loew these beautiful psychological fruits like the dedication to a cause, the taste for lyric poetry, the friendship toward a fiery young girl, and finally the somewhat overused privilege of a beautiful death."In retrospect, Erich realizes that the communist Russian Jew Grigori Loew was in a way his own mirror image; he also realizes that Sophie’s last wish to which he had complied was indeed an act of revenge that overshadowed Erich’s whole future life. His life after the catastrophic events seems to matter very little to him; he is also aware of the fact that his engagement in diverse conflicts all over the world (Manchuria, Latin America, Spain) have turned the once honourable soldier into a mercenary and adventurer (who will in all probability be soon part of the Nazi aggression in WWII).There are many other reasons to estimate Yourcenar’s book very highly: the crisp and elegant language, the deep psychological insights in the motivation and the different psycho-sexual orientations of the characters, the dialogues and atmospheric depth of the setting in the family castle of the de Reval family – I enjoyed this gem of a book very much. It made me curious to read more by Yourcenar.I read the book in the original French; it turned out to be a surprisingly easy read.An interesting movie is based on the novel: Der Fangschuss (1976), by Volker Schlöndorff (cinematography: Igor Luther).Marguerite Yourcenar: Coup de Grâce, Folio 2016Marguerite Yourcenar: Coup de Grâce, translated by Grace Frick, Farrar, Straus and Giroux 1981The text quotes in this blog post are translated from the French by Thomas Hübner.

  • Amante Libri
    2018-11-03 15:22

    Con questo romanzo ambiguo, intenso, pieno di affascinanti chiaroscuri e folgorante, scritto con uno stile compiuto, sapiente e elegante, Marguerite Yourcenar mi conquista definitivamente.Il colpo di graziaMarguerite YourcenarTraduzione: Maria Luisa SpazianiEditore: FeltrinelliPag: 137Voto: 5/5

  • Toni
    2018-11-09 13:22

    Amazing. Cruel. Love. Short. Powerful."You simply can’t make someone love you if they don’t. You must choose someone who already loves you. If you choose someone who does not love you, this is the sort of love you must want."- Israel HorovitzStrangely enough, but something I wrote 20 days ago fits perfectly for this book.What shall I do with my love, for someone, who doesn’t want it? And at the same time he is flattered and cannot abandon it…While I love him, I hate him, because he says he doesn’t love me. While he doesn’t love me, he is jealous, but his vanity would not let him admit it; and so none of us can handle this clash of our feelings. Now it does not matter whether we hate or love. Either way, we can only hurt each other.And even now, while I hate you, it pains me to sayI know I’ll be there at the end of the day…- Beyoncé“To love is to suffer. To avoid suffering, one must not love. But then, one suffers from not loving. Therefore, to love is to suffer; not to love is to suffer; to suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love. To be happy, then, is to suffer, but suffering makes one unhappy. Therefore, to be happy, one must love or love to suffer or suffer from too much happiness.”- Woody Allen

  • Misarweth
    2018-10-27 18:47

    Un court roman, autant dire une longue nouvelle.Parfait pour commencer à lire Yourcenar, on éprouve ensuite aucune peur à commencer des oeuvres comme l'Oeuvre au noir ou les Mémoires d'Hadrien.Se passe dans une époque troublée, la seconde guerre mondiale, dans une région troublée, assez floue, au milieu des pays baltes ou peut-être la Pologne... Les frontières et les occupants changent tellement vite en ce temps.Et des personnages, un narrateur, qui énerve qu'on aime pas forcément. On se fout de l'idéologie, c'est l'homme qui est intéressant. Surtout quand il se retrouve là dans un manoir plus ou moins encerclé, plus ou moins dans une ferme, plus ou moins en sécurité. Et l'histoire et l'idéologie les rattrapera. Mais avant on flotte un peu. On ne sait comment vont interagir tous ces éléments. Et comment et comment.Je crois que c'est le plus intéressant dans ce roman, ce flou, ce moment où on s'extrait pour regarder dans quel miasme on retombe ensuite. Et en même temps la beauté transparaît sous la plume de cette auteure incontournable.Lecture d'été comme d'hiver.

  • Teresa
    2018-10-25 13:33

    I very much liked Memoirs of Hadrian but this book... I mean, it was sublimely written, I enjoyed every word, every sentence and there were even some interesting thoughts on men, women, war, relationships that were quite interesting. But overall, I found myself that I couldn't care less about what I was reading, about Eric's ups and downs in the Balkans, the love-story (was there any? did he ever realised how much he loved Sophie?) between him and his best friend's sister (and he also had some kind of very deep attachment with his friend, another feeling that he just swallow!). That's why I'll confess that the characters were slightly more interesting than the plot. But still, nothing did matter to my reading self.

  • Mirela
    2018-10-27 18:43

    An amazing novel.The narrator is pretty cruel but this is what I actually like about this book I like the originality and the tragedy of the story It's not a typical love story - it's a story about a boy who realize that he is playing with the girl's heart and his observations on her behavior. Also the girl's feelings are described in a very realistic way and it is almost pleasent to read about the way she suffers because of her love.At the moment I'm actually re-reading it and I strongly reccomend it to everyone who's interested in Yorcenar's novels.

  • Ananá
    2018-11-04 15:25

    No estoy segura de si me gustó o no. Me costó leerlo, más que nada porque el personaje principal me cayó muy mal: el nivel de misoginia que maneja es muy fuerte. La verdad, me queda la duda de si Eric es así por ser un soldado antibolchevique en medio de la guerra, o sea por contexto histórico -digamos-, o porque está enamorado de Conrad y, como no puede concretar eso por razones obvias, se la agarra con Sophie... Pero está muy bien escrito, eso seguro. Te sigo queriendo, Marguerite.

  • Kristine
    2018-11-13 21:51

    Intense story and good writing style kept me interested from first page till the end. Main character dual, contradict emotions and cruel behavior seemed acceptable as the war is in background and pressure of Sophie's love caused bigger mess in his head. I wanted Conrad to be more involved in the storyline, but maybe it would be too much, it's already a good story!

  • Sam Ruddick
    2018-11-04 14:42

    Nothing I can say about this book is really going to do it justice.

  • Manuel Monge
    2018-11-14 15:30

    Elige una historia de amor imposible, frustrado, no consumado, como millones de otras historias que leemos o vemos a diario en películas o en series de televisión. Coloca esta historia en una contexto extremo, una guerra ¿por qué no?, y dáselo a la mente brillante de Marguerite Yourcenar y ¡zas!, tienes un novela corta simplemente maravillosa. Así es El Tiro de Gracia, la historia de Eric y Sophie, y el hermano de ésta, Conrad, envueltos en una historia de amores y odios en el medio de la guerra entre bolcheviques y polacos después de la Primera Guerra Mundial. Eric narra en primera persona el conflicto amoroso que tiene con Sophie, a quien conoce de toda la vida pero a quien nunca logra descifrar, y a quien en un momento ama y al siguiente detesta con la furia necesaria de la muerte. Es una historia de amor que trasciende los tiempos y el contexto histórico en la cual se ubica, porque se trata del realismo del romance, muchas veces sobreestimado, y que en esta historia Eric deshilacha de manera perfecta, confesando su egoísmo extremo, sus celos por ser querido y su rechazo a querer a nadie más que a sí mismo. Eric no esconde su misoginia, lo cual hace de una historia escrita por una mujer una pieza aun más respetable. La prosa de Yourcenar es perfecta, diáfana, como si atendiéramos a una cirugía meticulosamente aplicada, donde no falta ni sobra nada. Yourcenar es ya parte de los clásicos de la literatura francesa, pero sigue sintiéndose fresca, viva y actual.

  • Ana
    2018-11-06 18:34

    Creo que hay en cada vida unos períodos durante los cuales el hombre existe realmente, y otros en que sólo es un aglomerado de responsabilidades, de fatigas y, para las mentes débiles, de vanidad. Por las noches, como no podía pegar un ojo, leía tendido encima de unos sacos, en un pajar, un volumen descabalado de las Memorias de Retz, que había cogido de la biblioteca de Kratovicé, y si la falta completa de ilusiones y de esperanzas es lo que caracteriza a los muertos, aquella cama no se diferenciaba esencialmente de la otra en donde Conrad empezaba a descomponerse. Pero sé muy bien que siempre existirá, entre vivos y muertos, una separación misteriosa cuya naturaleza ignoramos, y que los más sagaces de entre nosotros saben tanto sobre la muerte como una solterona sobre el amor.

  • Giorgio
    2018-11-09 21:27

    Mi ha lasciato confuso.Per il testo perché, che sia colpa della prosa della Yourcenar o della traduzione, ho fatto fatica a capire parecchie alcune frasi.Per i contenuti perché ero lì a leggere e a chiedermi "È una storia d'amore? È una storia di guerra? Ma Eric ama Corrado? Ma cosa voleva dire Eric?". Ho trovato interessante lo studio delle emozioni di Sofia nel gestire un rifiuto amoroso e il finale mette a buon frutto la (lenta) caratterizzazione della ragazza e del suo rapporto col protagonista ma per il resto: che noia.

  • Maks
    2018-11-11 15:28

    pffff, heureusement que ça ne fait qu'un peu plus de 100 pages, c'est long, au début je me dit c'est intéressant, un peu long mais au final jusqu'au bout ce fût chaotique, puis le personnage principal on à envie du lui coller des claques, bref du bon et du moins bon mais je reste sur cette impression très mitigée.