“Men speak freely of the women they’ve had, and we’re condemned to silence. Why? Aren’t we as free as you? Don’t we, like you, have the right to take pleasure wherever we find it? . . . They praise seducers in art, poetry, and literature and put a mask of infamy on any woman who’s had many lovers. This is the point where the fight must be fought. Women’s morality must triumph, and that’s what I’m working at . . .”
Thus Ariane, unconventional, irrepressible, and irre-sistible, at seventeen the queen bee of the provincial Russian town where, after her mother’s early demise, she lives with her freethinking aunt. But Ariane is tired of breaking hearts in the sticks. Her father may wish to marry her off, but she means to go to the university in Moscow, and she will do whatever it takes to make her way the way she likes.
In Moscow, Ariane is in her element. She loves the glamour of the big city. She’s undaunted by its dangers. Before long, she meets Constantin Michel, businessman, man of the world, man-about-town. A new struggle begins.The inspiration for Billy Wilder’s Love in the Afternoon, Ariane has the perverse glitter of Nabokov and the disabused curiosity and keen emotional intelligence of Colette. It is a brilliant exploration—engrossing, unnerving, comic, and cunning—of the matchless cruelty of desire.
About the Author
Jean Schopfer (1868–1931), who wrote under the pseudonym Claude Anet,was born in Switzerland in 1868 and studied in France at the Sorbonne and École du Louvre. A competitive tennis player, Schopfer wrote several novels, plays, biographies, and travel books, and covered the Russian Revolution as a journalist.
Mitchell Abidor is a Brooklyn-based translator and regular contributor to The New York Review of Books. His latest book is his translation, with Richard Greeman, of Victor Serge’s Notebooks 1936-1947, which is published as an NYRB Classic.
“The beauty of literary love is that one can take it as a further exploration of one’s consciousness and sexuality…Ariane feeds that need, and this page-turner of a small novel can be a wonderful love in the afternoon.” —Tosh Berman
"Ariane is a rich study of the workings of passion and love’s foundational misunderstandings, which lead us to love fantasies instead of human beings. It’s also an investigation into the durability of feeling. To make it last, don’t we have to hide ourselves and play a part?" —Hervé Bel, ActuaLitté