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Philippe Besson
Frank Wynne

In The Absence Of Men

In The Absence Of Men

ISBN: 9781784876364

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In the Absence of Men by Philippe Besson, translated by Frank Wynne, is a coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of World War I. Here's a closer look:

Plot and Setting:

  • Year 1916: The novel takes place in France during a brutal summer in 1916, a pivotal point in World War I. The atmosphere is one of tension and absence, with many men away fighting on the front lines.
  • Young protagonist: The story centers on Vincent, a sixteen-year-old boy on the cusp of manhood. He is described as intelligent, precocious, and navigating the complexities of his emerging sexuality.

Key Relationships:

  • Two contrasting affairs: Vincent finds himself drawn to two very different men. One is Marcel, a celebrated writer and socialite much older than Vincent. The other is Arthur, a young soldier on leave from the war. These relationships explore themes of love, desire, and self-discovery.
  • Loss of innocence: As Vincent navigates these relationships and the realities of war, he sheds his childhood innocence and grapples with the complexities of life and death.

Other Interesting Points:

  • Marcel Proust inspiration: The unnamed writer, Marcel, is heavily inspired by the famous French author Marcel Proust. This adds an interesting layer to the story, with Vincent caught between the worlds of literature and lived experience.
  • Exploration of identity: The novel delves into themes of identity formation, particularly in relation to sexuality and social class. Vincent's experiences challenge societal norms of the time.

If you're interested in:

  • Coming-of-age stories set in historical contexts
  • LGBTQ+ themes in literature
  • Exploring love and desire during wartime
  • Complex character relationships

Then In the Absence of Men might be a compelling read for you.

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