Carmen by Prosper Merimee

carmenNotorious highwayman Don Jose Navarro is in prison, awaiting his execution.  He spends the final hours of his life telling a stranger the story of Carmen, the wild gypsy woman he met in Seville who led him into a life of crime before the fateful day when he shot her in a fit of jealousy.

Prosper Merimee’s novella is probably the first time a gypsy seductress appeared in fiction.  I leave it to graduate students and Amateur Reader to correct me if I’m wrong here.  I took a fall on Saturday which has left my left hand very sore so this will likely be a very short review.  No research will be done other than reading the flap of the book.

Carmen first appeared in 1845, the Melville House Art of the Novella edition is the 1903 George Burnham Ives translation, so the reader should be prepared to forgive the elevated level of dramatic excess and the language involved.  Like this passage:

“Yes, I did love him, as I loved you, for a moment–but less than I loved you, I think. Now, I love nobody, and I hate myself for  having loved you.”

You probably get the picture.

Carmen is still kind of fun in a guilty pleasure sort of way.  She runs rampant over the men she meets, using them, tosses them aside, moves on to the next one.

I can respect that.

Certainly in a mid-19th century gypsy beauty.

It really must have caused quite  a scandal in its day.

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2 Comments

  1. Sure, first, why not.

    The opera, despite its many virtues, omits Merimee’s hilarious first page.

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