Summary (Masterplots II: World Fiction Series)
Marguerite Yourcenar wrote Coup de Grace in the style of a classical French recit, a first-person narrative severely limited in time, place, and action. Erick von Lhomond, an elegant soldier of fortune approaching forty as the story begins, recalls an episode connected with his youth. Though the story begins at the Pisa, Italy, railroad station as Erick is waiting to return to Germany after having been wounded at Zaragoza (presumably in the Spanish Civil War), the entire focus of his tale remains on his experience in the Baltic regions of Livonia and Kurland as the Bolshevik army approaches Kratovitsy, the estate of his cousin and boyhood friend, Conrad de Reval. Erick briefly recounts his first visit to Kratovitsy. He is innocent in every sense of the word, little more than a boy, and the place seems an Edenic paradise. He and Conrad become strong friends. Sophie, who evidently cares for Erick even at this point, remains merely an unobtrusive distraction for him.
In the wake of the Russian Revolution, Erick returns to Kratovitsy as a Prussian-trained officer fighting in the White Russian army and determined to stop the advance of Bolshevik forces in the Baltic states. He serves with his boyhood friend Conrad and eventually arranges to be billeted at Kratovitsy. He discovers that war has brought a general neglect to the once excellently managed estate. He notices changes in his feelings for Sophie as well; her kiss makes him determined to view...
(The entire section is 1056 words.)
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