Paul and Virginia (Paperback)
Paul and Virginia (1788) is a novel by Bernardin de St. Pierre. Inspired by his experiences in Mauritius as a young man, the novel was written for children and adults alike. In its depiction of an ideal lifestyle on an island where equality and harmony reign, Paul and Virginia is a sharp critique of social conditions in pre-Revolutionary France. It is also a fascinating, albeit problematic artifact of the colonial era, arguing for emancipation while suggesting that slaves could live happily and with dignity under the right conditions. Beloved by such figures as Thomas Carlyle, Honor de Balzac, and Alexander von Humboldt, the once-popular novel is largely unknown to modern readers. "On the eastern coast of the mountain which rises above Port Louis in the Mauritius, upon a piece of land bearing the marks of former cultivation, are seen the ruins of two small cottages. Those ruins are situated near the centre of a valley, formed by immense rocks, and which opens only towards the north. On the left rises the mountain, called the Height of Discovery, from whence the eye marks the distant sail when it first touches the verge of the horizon, and whence the signal is given when a vessel approaches the island." On the beautiful island of Mauritius, Paul and Virginia lead a simple lifestyle in harmony with nature. Slaveowners, they aspire to treat their slaves with as much dignity and respect as possible, much to the chagrin of their more traditional neighbors. Despite their peaceful ways, the pressures of modern commerce threaten to destroy the utopian existence they've built for themselves in a valley not unlike paradise. With a beautifully designed cover and professionally typeset manuscript, this edition of Bernardin de St. Pierre's Paul and Virginia is a classic work of French literature reimagined for modern readers.