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No Tomorrow (New York Review Books Classics)…
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No Tomorrow (New York Review Books Classics) (English and French Edition) (original 1812; edição 2009)

por Vivant Denon (Autor), Lydia Davis (Tradutor), Peter Brooks (Introdução)

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20212136,212 (3.49)13
"One of the loveliest pieces of French prose," writes Milan Kundera in a blurb on this book's cover. Why not read it, I think? I skip, for the moment, the long intro as I am afraid of spoilers, and set off on this very slight 'diversion' that details an intimate, yet playful, seduction in the French court in, say, the late 18th century. In this slight yet alluring tale the reader's challenge is to determine just who is seducing whom: the older, womanly sophisticate, or the younger rakish lothario? So, there I was, the torrid pages growing hot and heavy, eagerly turning to page 37, when the text suddenly changes to French! What happened? It seems I had just read the entire book (or was it a novella or even a short story?), whose editor kindly decided to include the original French version as well. Sadly, for me, when I am sauntering down the broad boulevards of Paris, and some women gesture in my direction, saying, "Voulez Vous Coucher Avec Moi," I can only jauntily reply, "Me no speak the language!" But my thanks to the translator for her noble effort. And the once ignored intro told me more about author Vivant Denon; apparently, other than writing this one delectable bit of prose, he assembled the great art collections inside the Louvre. And I can also state that I am "woke" enough to realize that this makes him, not an aesthete, but a looter and a plunderer! ( )
  larryking1 | Sep 18, 2020 |
Mostrando 12 de 12
A delightful, sensual vignette (30 pages) about a young man who is seduced by a Mme T. He is young, thinks he is in love with Mm T's friend but is a willing paramour. MMe T is using him to counterbalance the attnetions of her husband and her other lover, M. Very fun, not at all porographic. ( )
  brianstagner | Sep 11, 2023 |
"One of the loveliest pieces of French prose," writes Milan Kundera in a blurb on this book's cover. Why not read it, I think? I skip, for the moment, the long intro as I am afraid of spoilers, and set off on this very slight 'diversion' that details an intimate, yet playful, seduction in the French court in, say, the late 18th century. In this slight yet alluring tale the reader's challenge is to determine just who is seducing whom: the older, womanly sophisticate, or the younger rakish lothario? So, there I was, the torrid pages growing hot and heavy, eagerly turning to page 37, when the text suddenly changes to French! What happened? It seems I had just read the entire book (or was it a novella or even a short story?), whose editor kindly decided to include the original French version as well. Sadly, for me, when I am sauntering down the broad boulevards of Paris, and some women gesture in my direction, saying, "Voulez Vous Coucher Avec Moi," I can only jauntily reply, "Me no speak the language!" But my thanks to the translator for her noble effort. And the once ignored intro told me more about author Vivant Denon; apparently, other than writing this one delectable bit of prose, he assembled the great art collections inside the Louvre. And I can also state that I am "woke" enough to realize that this makes him, not an aesthete, but a looter and a plunderer! ( )
  larryking1 | Sep 18, 2020 |
A very short story that was at least probably written by Vivant Denon, who is better known for having assembled the art Napoleon stole while waging war across Europe in the Louvre. It’s touted as being a masterpiece of seduction and stylishly erotic, but I have to say, it’s so incredibly short that there isn’t enough time for true seduction to take place. It was refreshing that the book was not misogynistic as others in this genre and time period often are, and I liked how the woman was in control, keeping her husband and her official lover under control while she manipulated a young man into a tryst one evening. However, it still reads as male fantasy, and a pretty thin one at that. There is something to be said for the simplicity, and indeed, the morality of the exchange of pleasure and desire without entanglement or regard for ‘tomorrow’.

Just this quote, on ‘after’:
“Besides, I’ve exhausted all the resources a heart possesses to bind you. What could you still hope for from me now? What could you still desire? And if a woman leaves a man with nothing to desire or to hope, what will become of her? I have given you everything I could; perhaps one day you will forgive me for the pleasures that, once the moment of intoxication has passed, return you to the severity of your judgment.” ( )
1 vote gbill | Feb 8, 2017 |
This slim novel (more of a short story at only 32 pages in length) is an 18th-century French classic. The cover blurbs place it alongside Dangerous Liaisons, and while it does have its witty moments and is definitely in the libertine mode, it lacks the emotional drama of the former. A man recalls an episode of his youth, his seduction by a married woman. Initially, he assumes that the intrigue is in avoiding her aging husband, but as morning breaks, he learns that he has been a decoy, and perhaps a provocation, for her lover, the Marquis.

The New York Review of Books includes both the French version and an English adaptation by fiction writer Lydia Davis, as well as a lengthy but informative introduction by scholar Peter Cook. While there are some wry, witty moments and several instances of fine, subtle writing, overall, I was not too impressed. ( )
1 vote Cariola | May 7, 2012 |
On my first read, I was a little underwhelmed. But on a re-read, I felt I was able to appreciate it more. Partially for turns of phrases like this:

"The moon was setting, and its last rays soon lifted the veil of a modesty that was, I think, becoming rather tiresome."


And sentences that just seem so true like this:

"Love demands multiple tokens: it thinks it hasn't won anything as long as something is still left to be won."


Partially for all the indirect stuff in here. All the unspoken things alluded to and in the background. For example, here's the opening paragraph:

I was desperately in love with the Comtesse de ______ ; I was twenty years old and I was naive. She deceived me, I got angry, she left me. I was naive, I missed her. I was twenty years old, she forgave me, and, because I was twenty years old, because I was naive – still deceived, but no longer abandoned, I thought myself to be the best-loved lover, and therefore the happiest of men. She was a friend of Mme de T______, who seemed to have some designs on me yet did not wish to compromise her dignity. As we shall see, Mme de T______ possessed certain principles of decency to which she was scrupulously attached.


That paragraph is so wonderfully confusing and circuitous, that I didn't really think much about its meaning on first read. The rest of the story does not concern Comtesse de _____. Instead, the main character (who is older now) is being slowly seduced by Mme de T_____. Then, lost in all the paragraphs somewhere, Mme de T____ talks about Comtesse de _____:

she's a Proteus of forms, she charms with her manners--she attracts, she eludes. How many roles I've seen her play! Between you and me, how many dupes surround her! How she has mocked the Baron!...How many tricks she has played on the Marquis! When she took up with you, it was to regain her hold over two overly imprudent rivals who were about to expose her. She had accommodated them too much, they had had time to observe her; eventually, they would have caused a scandal. But she brought you onto the scene, gave them a hint of your attentions, led them to pursue her anew, drove you to despair, pitied you, consoled you--and all four of you were content. Oh what power an artful woman has over you!"


Only on second read did I connect what Mme de T___ said here with the first paragraph and come out with a fuller view of what the main character was talking about in that first paragraph. His relationship with the Comtesse is otherwise veiled. Also, it is another layer of fun to note that "artful woman" line since that is exactly what Mme de T_____ is also. "all four of you were content" could refer to the current story's actors (Mme de T___, her husband, her lover, and the main character). A little later down the page, the now older/wiser narrator realizes this:

"I felt that a blindfold had just been lifted from my eyes, and I didn't see the new one with which it was replaced."
( )
  JimmyChanga | Jul 13, 2010 |
Esta crítica foi escrita no âmbito dos Primeiros Críticos do LibraryThing.
The introduction section of this book is excellent, giving the background of the author, Denon (De Non), and the times. It discusses society’s changes resulting from the French Revolution and how these political changes affected the interpretation and view of literary works, such as this story. ( )
  smc1 | Jan 10, 2010 |
Esta crítica foi escrita no âmbito dos Primeiros Críticos do LibraryThing.
A delightful piece of French froth, published first in 1777 by the man better remembered as the director of the Louvre. It is the story of a young man, in love with one older woman, and going off with another to make love in her husband's home where she hasn't been for eight years. The three have dinner, although the sickly husband only takes milk. He goes to bed early, and his wife and her young friend amble in the gardens, and finally make passionate love. The woman's real lover appears, who is loved by the object of the young man's affections.

It is not clear to me why the husband is so welcoming of these lovers, or why he accepts his wife again. Why she chose to seduce the young man and present that fait accompli to her lover, who also appears, is quite a mystery. The woman loved by the young man is only alluded to but does not appear.

It reminds me of The Rules of the Game, or La Ronde, or The Last of Cheri. The little book has the original French version following the translation, which rarely occurs in editions of prose rather than poetry. The published version has the French and English on facing pages.

The characters are supposed to have real feeling for the ones offstage, and only have sexual play with those on stage. I may be too much of a puritan to enjoy such froth, but the French prose is exquisite. For those who don''t read French, it is probably like looking at a Fragonard while listening to Rameau. A romp. It should make a wonderful study tool for students of French, who want to have some fun while they study. ( )
  almigwin | Jan 8, 2010 |
Esta crítica foi escrita no âmbito dos Primeiros Críticos do LibraryThing.
The cover copy for No Tomorrow (Point de Lendemain) by Vivant Denon calls it "a masterpiece of libertine literature.". While that is certainly the genre into which it would fit of the 18th Century French variety, I found that advertising the story this way actually minimizes the incredible subtlety of the work and the literary and historic connections. The story is simple; it is the seduction of the nameless young male narrator by a more sophisticated and equally nameless older woman, Mme de T.--. It doesn't quite fit the libertine genre in that the seduction is a willing one and is carried out by a charming older woman.


Much like The Tale of Genji, which follows the sexual exploits of a young noble man, the narrator is oblique in referring to both the identity of the woman and the acts of seduction itself. That is part of what makes the story so charming. It leaves much to the imagination and conceals as much as it reveals. Unlike The Tale of Genji it is a remarkably slim story but then one evening’s seduction doesn’t merit a long story.

The Forward by Peter Brooks was valuable in providing historical context to the story and the question of authorship. The early reviewer copy I had featured the French text after the English translation but the published version has facing page translations which would ease comparing the language for readers of French.

It is such a slim volume it is certainly worth reading if you are at all interested in the time period and it is highly accessible to the modern reader if you are not sure about an 18th Century libertine novel. ( )
1 vote Marensr | Jan 7, 2010 |
Esta crítica foi escrita no âmbito dos Primeiros Críticos do LibraryThing.
This was an Early Reviewers book, more of a short story, and in a dual language edition. No Tomorrow was written prior to the French Revolution and describes the mannered seduction (in oblique language) of a young man over the course of an evening. An interesting look at some of the social mores of the time and with a nice twist, it is less about manipulation than Les Liaisons Dangereuses, the most famous French novel of the mid to late 18th century . ( )
  scohva | Dec 31, 2009 |
Esta crítica foi escrita no âmbito dos Primeiros Críticos do LibraryThing.
Point de lendemain is a beautifully written short story set in 18th century France. It covers one night, which the narrator spends with a married woman who is the friend of his mistress. First the meeting at the opera, then the flirtation, and finally consummation. It's not at all vulgar, or dirty, or graphic, though. It's sweet, and romantic. The publishers blurb compares it to the works of de Sade and de Laclos, but it isn't at all like those (besides the French setting). It isn't a love story, necessarily, or the falling-in-love story commonly thought of as a love story. Very much worth reading.

This NYRB classics edition includes both the original French story and the English translation. ( )
  jfetting | Dec 13, 2009 |
Esta crítica foi escrita no âmbito dos Primeiros Críticos do LibraryThing.
I love reading books on history. Occasionally I grow tired of heavy, dry tomes and want something lighter and fanciful. I don’t care much for modern literature, preferring books written a century or more ago. But not because they are historical. I like them because they were written by people living at that time in history. They allow us to experience the feelings and dreams of people who lived long ago.

Often historical novels or Hollywood films get all the details are correct but the thoughts and emotions of the characters are modern. I understand that this makes the characters more accessible to modern audiences but I hunger for authenticity.

Vivant Denon was no ordinary author. In fact, “No Tomorrow” is the only fiction he is known to have written. The rest of his works were travelogues. He was an engraver, a courtier and a diplomat. He accompanied Napoleon on his military campaign in Egypt. Denon was the first Director of French Museums. He was largely responsible for the collections in the Louvre. It is safe to say that Vivant Denon was no hack writer.

This brief tale of a young man’s seduction by an older married woman is a window into the past. The opera house where they first meet is seen through the eyes of an author who had spent many hours in opera houses. Their long flight by coach to her husband’s secluded estate necessitates changing horses multiple times much as we would refill the tanks in our cars. Just as we use water to symbolize intimacy, the lovers consummate their affair to the sounds of a stream that runs past the summer house where they sought privacy.

On an emotional level, modern readers may be shocked to learn that sex in France during that era was regarded very differently from our own more puritanical outlook. This is the authenticity that I seek. To be able to vicariously experience the emotions and outlook of a world so different from our own. Not to be titillated, but to actually live, however briefly, in that time.

“No Tomorrow” is not graphic. It is not pornography. It is more dreamlike than erotic. It is a story in the Romantic tradition. An age that ended with the French Revolution and the guillotine. Knowing this as you read it lends poignancy to the story. ( )
  OldRoses | Nov 10, 2009 |
Esta crítica foi escrita no âmbito dos Primeiros Críticos do LibraryThing.
No Tomorrow by Vivant Denon—or really, shouldn't it be "No Tomorrow," as this is more a short story than anything else—is a small, fine thing, not unlike the figures that grace its cover in the new NYRB edition. The 1777 erotic tale is clear and precise without being explicit or coarse. It is not even erotic so much as addressed at the idea of eroticism, the story of a libertine affair mature enough to examine the ethics of pleasure, but without removing the pleasure of the affair itself.

Denon has fabulous control: "The night was superb; it revealed things in glimpses, and seemed only to veil them so as to give free rein to the imagination." The narrator, looking back on a night spent with Madame de T— when he was just twenty years old, perfectly foreshadows how both the evening and the story will unfold. He is whisked off by Mme de T— (though they both have other lovers) to her husband's chateau, on the night when she reconciles with him after eight years apart. A strange situation to be sure, but Mme de T— is undisturbed and leads the narrator on a stroll, where she first acts coy, talking about his friend the Countess.

I hardly need to say where that goes, and our narrator begs us to remember that he was only twenty years old, implying that he knows better now, before telling us of more of his missteps. The whole thing is highly mannered and perfect for an eighteenth century era when everyone wore the mask of high society all the time.

But Mme de T—, no matter what the light of the next morning may bring, is "decent," cannot lose her dignity in the narrator's eyes. What does he really think of the ethics of pleasure, then—and when there is point de lendemain, "point de questions, point de résistance" and—a moral?—“point"?

(more at http://www.bibliographing.com/2009/11/04/emno-tomorrowem-vivant-denon/ ) ( )
  nperrin | Nov 4, 2009 |
Mostrando 12 de 12

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