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Young, attractive and very ambitious, George Duroy, kwn to his friends as Bel-Ami, is offered a job as a journalist on La Vie francaise and soon makes a great success of his new career. But he also comes face to face with the realities of the corrupt society in which he lives - the sleazy colleagues, the manipulative mistresses and wily financiers - and swiftly learns to become an arch-seducer, blackmailer and social climber in a world where love is only a means to an end. Written when Maupassant was at the height of his powers, Bel-Ami is a vel of great frankness and cynicism, but it is also infused with the sheer joy of life - depicting the scenes and characters of Paris in the belle epoque with wit, sensitivity and humanity.
GUY DE MAUPASSANT (1850-93) was a literary disciple of Flaubert and part of the group of young Naturalistic writers that formed around Zola. In addition to his six novels, which include Bel-Ami (1885) and Pierre et Jean (1888), Maupassant wrote hundreds of short stories, the most famous of which is 'Boule de suif'. By the late 1870s, he began to develop the first signs of syphilis, and in 1891 he was committed to an asylum in Paris, having tried to commit suicide. He died there two years later. DOUGLAS PARMEE is a well-known French translator.