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3.82  ·  Rating details ·  411 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
One of the great mavericks of French literature, Georges Bernanos combined raw realism with a spiritual focus of visionary intensity. Mouchette stands with his celebrated Diary of a Country Priest as the perfection of his singular art.

“Nothing but a little savage” is how the village school-teacher describes fourteen-year-old Mouchette, and that view is echoed by every righ
Paperback, 156 pages
Published November 21st 2005 by NYRB Classics (first published 1937)
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Czarny Pies
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one. The time for this book has come and gone.
Shelves: french-lit
In the 1980's when I was an undergraduate the "Nouvelle histoire de Mouchette" was a popular choice for inclusion on first year French Lit courses. The novel is short and clear both of which are important qualities for English speakers beginning to read French. Moreover as it addressed the issues of alcoholism and rape it had the virtue of discusssing topics that are still considered inappropriate for secondary school courses. Finally, the outstanding Robert Bresson movie version regularly appea ...more
Sep 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lit
Thirteen reasons why this is a FAR FAR superior book to a more recently published, more widely read, and much more profitable book about a teen girl's suicide:

1. It wan't written on the author's used toilet paper.
2. It wan't written on the author's used toilet paper.
3. It wan't written on the author's used toilet paper.
4. It wan't written on the author's used toilet paper.
5. It wan't written on the author's used toilet paper.
6. It wan't written on the author's used toilet paper.
7. It wan't writt
Nora Dillonovich
Mar 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: wrenching
I watched this film once a day, for a few days. I don't do this with many films- La Strada. Pierrot le Fou I watched upon waking for about a week; it was my version of a cup of coffee and the paper. Umberto D, a nightly salve. But Mouchette- my little savage... this is a brutal and beautiful tale. Raised by generational alcoholics, scorned and abused, shamed daily, Mouchette abhors and desires affection and tenderness- in love with the man who raped her, the fierce and violent world of men is mo ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
I recommend treating the introduction as an afterword. Save it till after you've read the novella. There's so little story to be told in this tiny book, and the introduction gives it all away. Shame on the publishers. This happens so often in classics that I've learned not to go near intros. Spoiler City.
Nate D
Sep 28, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: death had never been real before
Recommended to Nate D by: you can't pet a wildcat
Realism so destitute yet graceful as to attain a kind of shimmering deathly clarity and deep-quarries of potential resonance. Bresson made a film of it. It jumped me at the library with its nyrb cover and only took a day to bolt through.
Mark Summers
Jun 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
There are works of literature that readers find "strange."

This particular adjective or atmosphere transcends genre and by it I am not referring to the oddness or unreality of horror stories, apocalyptic stories, or science fiction stories. Such books - for all their imaginative richness - are, nonetheless, written as more-or-less straightforward narratives (most commonly written "to form"); they are escapist works (and I mean this as a compliment to them as having purpose and value), designed to
Sep 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Cinephiles
For years, I’ve been obsessed with French cinema. Every night I would choose an old French film from my collection and allow myself to be fully immersed in its elusive beauty. I was once struck by the sophistication of French film making after watching Au revoir, les enfants by Louise Malle. I was also deeply enthralled by Hiroshima, Mon Amour and I remember bawling my eyes out while watching Les Quatre cents coups. French cinema has the cinematic glamour of being exceedingly sophisticated and t ...more
Jim Fonseca
Oct 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: french-authors
Here's a story of a 14-year old girl in rural France (translated from the French) first published in 1937, so we assume we are harkening back to the author's youth in the early 1900's. Kerosene lanterns and candles give other clues of the era. It's a dirt-poor region of smugglers and poachers fueled by alcohol and abuse. People die young from tuberculosis. The deceased grandfather of Mouchette spent time in France's notorious prison in French Guyana, probably Devil's Island. Our main character i ...more
Quinn Slobodian
Jun 23, 2008 rated it liked it
Some of the great 19th century French novels (Madame Bovary, the Red and the Black) are about the entanglement of their protagonists' self-understanding with the narratives they absorb from books. In Mouchette, Bernanos gives us a protagonist without inputs, a destitute teenage girl with a drunken father who may or may not even be able to read. So what is a person who does not read to a French author? Bernanos himself describes her again and again as an animal and the villagers describe her as a ...more
Nov 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
i would venture to guess that almost every single person on gr's is of peasant stock and that not too many generations past our grandparents or great gp's or whatever, lived the dirty, diseased, brutal life of rural folks. many, most, people still do, though probably not many post to gr's. Mouchette came to a point in her young life where death was just like life. no different. This Bernanos reminds me very much of Jose Cela's "Pascual Duarte" The Family of Pascual Duarte (Spanish Literature Series) by Camilo José Cela
Erma Odrach
Sep 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
Mouchette or "little fly" is a story of a destitute 14-year-old girl living in rural France, searching for hope and a better way of life. Her story is very raw and real, and she is "alone, completely alone, against everyone." Having an alcoholic father, she is abused, scoffed at, shamed, humiliated, raped.

Bernanos repeatedly refers to her as an 'animal', and the schoolmistress, along with other villagers, calls her a 'savage'.
An intensely grim but heartfelt rendering of a young girl living in a
Jun 24, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Poor Mouchette. Unfortunately (or not), my perception of this story is tainted by my love for the Bresson film, which in its refusal to explore psychological realism creates a sublime vision of a soul in transition. Bernanos' novel, on the other hand, at times reads like an essay on a character rather than a story.
Brian James
Aug 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those novels that doesn't overpower the reader with its sadness, but rather works slowly to overwhelm them in a such a subtle way that the true impact falls upon you only after you've turned the last page. Mouchette is the story of a young girl, who at fourteen, is lost somewhere between the world of childish confusion and grown-up intuition. Told in such beautiful and easy prose, the harshness of the story is elevated into something pleasurable, almost hiding the painful reality ...more
Aaron Mcquiston
Aug 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: nyrb-classics
For some reason, it took me a long time to get through these 127 pages and I kept losing my concentration while I was trying to read. I kept having to go back over paragraphs and pages, trying to figure out what I had just read and missed. I would read half a page and then start thinking about what I was going to do that day and what I was going to read next. I could not keep focused, and that is something that rarely happens when I read. I think it might be partly because the introduction reall ...more
Justin Evans
Mar 08, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Imagine a typical mid century European-continental novel. It's existentialist. It's full of angst. There are large dollops of absurd events. There is a political point in there somewhere, but everything is so personal and subjective that you're never sure what that political point might be. And there's lots of reflection. Okay. And now, instead of the middle-class, twenty or thirty something, over-educated male protagonist, put in a completely impoverished pubescent girl who lacks the words to d ...more
Dec 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: suicide
I still find this book disturbing, and yet, Bernanos tilts ever so slightly toward merciful.
Having read this book four years ago, I still champion Mouchette; the girl, not the novel.
Steven Voorhees
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
MOUCHETTE's the basis for Bresson's 1967 film of the same name. It's the spare, psychologically fraught story of a mistreated girl who crosses paths with a hunter who may have or may have not committed murder. Added to this mirthful atmosphere are villains of both genders and the aura of French small village life. MOUCHETTE feels very Dickensian; however, it's far more graphic AND bleak than anything in Boz's cannon.
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful book. Looking forward to reading more Bernanos. If you liked Bresson's film version, you must read this as well. You will get the whole picture. I almost want to read it again. 5 well deserved stars.
May 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
[rating = A+]
Best Book of the Year (for 2014)
A stirring book about adolescence and the power of decision. The girl runs through the rain, meets a friend, gets home late, and becomes engrossed in her own misery. Poverty does not fear itself, it fears realizing that they are poor. Very well written with insight on Mouchette and on her dreary life. The young girl is an outsider and she doesn't know why, just that she must stay solitary. She does not seek pity, but she has not the touch of a loving
Dustin Luke
Jan 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Mouchette was almost instantly one of my all time favorites. It's a completely heartbreaking book. The opening scene drops you in the middle of a storm with almost no idea what's going on. It's confusing and beautiful, nearly impossible to get your's a masterfully written passage that places you the fractured world of Mouchette. if you want to be depressed for a day or two, read Mouchette. It's good....if you like that sort of thing. I do.
Jul 06, 2011 rated it it was ok
Yes, well... difficult. I think the story could have been a great one. I usually love dramatic life stories like these, but somehow it just did not get to me. I think the novel is sometimes a little too vague which does not make you able to connect to the character at all. I did not really get her way of thinking and actions which made it hard to feel some sort of compassion.
Apr 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literature
This reminded me of Zazie in the Metro another French short novel with a young boorish female protagonist. Except where with Zazie her adventures through Paris were in good nature it's the polar opposite with Mouchette. Her story was one that was very sad.
Oct 23, 2009 rated it liked it
I enjoyed reading this book. The prose is vivid with detail as it tells the story of a teenaged girl living in neglect in rural France. But man, what a grim story. I had to force myself to finish, hoping in vain for some sort of magically happy ending...
Pilate Glass
Apr 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
Like a haymaker to the diaphragm.
Nov 17, 2008 rated it liked it
very cute and french
Mar 09, 2012 rated it did not like it
Rather gloomy - made me feel unpleasant.
Jun 30, 2008 rated it liked it
This book teetered on the edge of creepy and sad and very very French. I still need to watch the film.
Jun 24, 2013 marked it as to-read
Shelves: film-only
Jul 19, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: boekenkast, academic
Hmm, I don't know what to think about this little book. Quite honestly, I find it a bit too dramatic..
Mar 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written in a beautiful French and placed in a gloomy setting, it was short, but quite enjoyable.
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NYRB Classics: Mouchette, by Georges Bernanos 1 6 Oct 29, 2013 04:20PM  
  • Witch Grass
  • My Fantoms
  • Novels in Three Lines
  • The Widow
  • Pages from the Goncourt Journals
  • Short Letter, Long Farewell
  • No Tomorrow
  • The Pure and the Impure
  • Fatale
  • An Ermine in Czernopol
  • Sunflower
  • Alien Hearts
  • Wish Her Safe at Home
  • Seven Men
  • Niki: The Story of a Dog
  • Amsterdam Stories
  • Mr. Fortune's Maggot; and, The Salutation
  • Aurélia and Other Writings
Georges Bernanos était un écrivain français, gagneur du Grand Prix du Roman de l'Académie française en 1936 avec Journal d'un curé de campagne.

George Bernanos was a French writer. His 1936 book, Journal d'un curé de campagne (Diary of a Country Priest), won the Grand Prix du roman de l'Académie française.
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“Suicide only really frightens those who are never tempted by it and never will be, for its darkness only welcomes those who are predestined to it.” 341 likes
“And now she was thinking of her own death, with her heart gripped not by fear but by the excitement of a great discovery, the feeling that she was about to learn what she had been unable to learn from her brief experience of love. What she thought about death was childish, but what could never have touched her in the past now filled her with poignant tenderness, as sometimes a familiar face we see suddenly with the eyes of love makes us aware that it has been dearer to us than life itself for longer than we have ever realized.” 6 likes
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