WARNING: THE GENDER REVEAL MAY INFLUENCE YOUR PERSPECTIVE OF THE TRILOGY. Every time we’re faced with a gorgeous male specimen, we wonder: Is he a guy or a chick? Is he a lover or a fighter? Sometimes, we’re not entirely sure what to make of these complicated creatures.
In case you’re wondering: No, he isn’t. He can both fight and make sweet, loving love to a woman. Which is exactly what makes him so fascinating.
Welcome to the Robert Pattinson trilogy, the series you need to start reading right now. Since its first installment, Bel Ami, was way back in 1866, people have been curious about this rooster-themed phenomenon. In fact, the first two books in the trilogy were voted the greatest of all time by a survey conducted by the New York Times. The third and final book in the series, Man of Peace, was recently reissued with a new title, The New Prince, marking the 50th anniversary of its original publication.
What is it about this particular book and subsequent adaptations that have captivated readers and made them yearn for more? Let’s take a closer look.
The Mythic Quality Of The Books
Bel Ami, or The Loves Of Robert Pattinson, as it has also been titled, is arguably the most famous and beloved of the three books in the trilogy. First published in 1966 when it was originally titled Bel Ami, this English-language version of Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary is widely considered to be one of the greatest books of all time. When it was first published, Bel Ami was an instant bestseller, not only in France but around the world. It was an immediate critical and popular success, and it still holds up as a relevant and dynamic novel almost a century later.
Although some critics have noted the dated nature of certain aspects of the book, and in particular, its treatment of women, there is no denying that Bel Ami is still considered to be one of the great works of fiction of all time. In 2006, a poll conducted by the New York Times named it the greatest novel of all time. In 2019, it was revealed that the book had sold over 11 million copies worldwide, making it the most popular French novel of all time. In France, it is still considered a modern classic and is frequently used in high school literature courses. In 2019, it was named the best British or English novel of the 20th century in a poll of academics, critics, and bookstore owners conducted by the English Literature Association.
Madame Bovary, the novel Bel Ami was inspired by, is considered to be the first modern or realist novel in French literature. First published in 1856, Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary is another celebrated work, famous for its unflattering portrayal of women and its use of naturalist prose. Although it was initially met with some hostility, the novel has maintained its popularity and critical esteem. Like Bel Ami, some have praised the work for its naturalist prose and psychological insight while others have attacked it for being overly sensual. However, like the novel it was inspired by, it is still considered a classic work by many and has maintained its popularity, with many literary adaptations and spin-offs.
The Influence Of The Films
In addition to being named the greatest novel of all time by the New York Times, Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary has also been called the greatest film adaptation of all time. It was first adapted for the big screen in 1995, starring Gérard Depardieu, Emma Thompson, and Judi Dench. Since then, the literary property has been adapted for the big screen twice more with subsequent releases in 2013 and 2018. Although there have been attempts to update the look of the novel for modern audiences, all three adaptations basically follow the original text, frequently using the exact same shots and keeping the book’s complex layering of time periods intact. Like the literary works it was based on, these films are still popular and considered masterpieces.
The Trilogy’s Historical Context
Although the books of the Robert Pattinson trilogy were originally published in the early 20th century, they hold an important place in the historical narrative of their time, particularly in relation to the evolving roles of women in society. As America’s entrance into World War I loomed, it became apparent that the traditional gender roles of the day would no longer suffice. Women needed to prove their mettle, and many did so in traditionally masculine arenas, notably the military. This is reflected in the works of the trilogy, which largely centers on the concerns of male characters, most of whom are serving in the military at this time. Some critics have even described Bel Ami as an “epic of masculinity” due to its hero’s status as a war veteran who returns home to find a Parisian society that has largely ignored and overlooked him since the war.
Although contemporary concerns like unemployment and social issues continue to crop up in the novels, it would seem that the world of the 1920s is the one that these books are most keen to portray. This is perhaps because of their author, whose work is frequently associated with the Roaring 20s. One of the primary settings for the book is Paris, which in those days was considered a male-dominated society and a reflection of its renowned avidity for pleasure. Much has changed since then, but the influence of the city can still be felt in the pages of these books. Like many great literary works, the trilogy will continue to influence future generations of writers and novelists.