Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
On the ship that takes him to the United States, probably forever, Amaury undertakes to tell the story of his life to a young friend. Having renounced his past life to live a new one abroad, he is afraid that he might find more pleasure than he should in those past memories; but he feels that his experience can prove useful to the young man, in whom he recognizes so many of his own tendencies.
Amaury, losing his parents, was reared by an uncle in Brittany. In his youth he was sheltered from the world outside his house, which at that time was slowly recovering from the effects of the French Revolution. He spent most of his time studying, and, prone to dreaming, he was actually more concerned with the adventures of Cyrus, Alexander, and Constantine than he was with the men and events of his own day. His Latin teacher was Monsieur Ploa, a man absolutely devoid of personal ambition; only a misinterpretation of Vergil or Cicero could momentarily get him excited. Monsieur Ploa had Amaury translate the voluptuous passages of the Aeneid (c. 29-19 b.c.e.; English translation, 1553) or the Odes (23 b.c.e., 13 b.c.e.; English translation, 1621) of Horace with a complete candor that his disciple did not share.
When Amaury was about fifteen years old, he spent six weeks at a neighboring castle. His life there, no longer checked by his regular...
(The entire section is 1396 words.)
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