Book summary: Mateo Falcone

Book summary: Mateo Falcone

March 25, 2023 by Mylene in Book summary

Mateo Falcone is a short story published in 1829 by Prosper Mérimée. In this short story, Prosper Mérimée explores themes of honor, loyalty, family values, and the consequences of betrayal in a society where reputation and codes of conduct are paramount.

Summary of the tale

The story, inspired by a minor news item, takes place in Corsica in the 19th century near the maquis, a dense vegetation and scrubland that covers much of the island. In the maquis, “it is only with an ax in hand that a man would open a passage there” and “if you have killed a man, go to the maquis above Porto-Vecchio, and you will be able to live in safety there, with a good rifle, gunpowder and bullets”, “the shepherds will give you milk, cheese and chestnuts”.

Mateo Falcone is around 50 years old, he lives “nobly” without having to work. He is married to Giuseppa and had first 3 daughters (“to his fury”), and finally THE long-awaited son, Fortunato.

Mateo is an excellent shooter, he is a good friend, but a dangerous enemy, he lives in peace with everyone.

One day, his son Fortunato, about 10 years old, will have to take a decision on his own. The consequences will lead to his downfall. Mateo, preferring honor to love, will take another successor than his son.

Throughout Mateo Falcone

All the elements of a tragedy are present:

  • A place, a day, and an action
  • Mateo chooses his duty and resists love
  • Fotunato is subject to forces beyond him
  • Fate, after his poor decision, Fortunato will not have a favorable outcome

Although Mateo Falcone is a short story, it offers a rich and intimate portrayal of a Corsican family, allowing readers to gain an in-depth understanding of their values, customs, and way of life. Furthermore, the story reveals an underlying aspect of the story: Corsicans do not feel French, as Corsica was ceded to France not long ago in 1768.

Explore the rich world of literature through Mateo Falcone and beyond

Reading Mateo Falcone in its original French language not only allows you to fully appreciate the beauty of Mérimée’s prose, but also offers a fascinating glimpse into Corsican culture and traditions – so why not take the plunge and open up a whole new world of literature by exploring French literature further?

Consider taking the first step on this exciting journey by joining our book club, FrenchBookmark, and connecting with other avid readers who share your passion and appreciation for timeless French classics and the whole new world of French literature.

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