For Sébastien Faure, the experience of love is so profound that, in its wake, he will be left with an almost occult understanding of the world, a potent knowledge bequeathed to him by passion that will endure even when the object of his love is no more.
Sébastien is fifteen years old and already versed in the medicinal properties of plants and herbs when he meets the young nobleman Balthazar de Créon, whose life he saves after the latter is thrown from a horse. Struck by the boy’s beauty as much as by his talents as a healer, de Créon orders Sébastien to his manor some months later so he can instruct him in the ways of the court, hoping thus to install him as Louis XV’s surgeon. De Créon’s motives, however, are clouded by his lust for Sébastien, and after a brief period of restraint Balthazar and Sébastien loose both their passion and their imaginations. But it is 1749. Their affair scandalizes the French court, bringing the king’s wrath down upon them. Balthazar is eventually presented with an ultimatum: repudiate Sébastien and live, or do not, and die.
Daniel Arsand’s slim, sublime Lovers is many things: a song of love and an ode to sensual abandon and the transformative powers of beauty; a richly imagined, atmospheric evocation of the French court; a fable about freedom and the heart’s indifference to social and class barriers; a deeply felt cry against those who, poor of heart and soul, refute the legitimacy of unconventional love. Above all, with its delectable prose, Lovers is itself a delight for the senses.
Daniel Arsand was born in Avignon in 1950 and currently works as an editor with Éditions Phébus in Paris. He is the author of several novels, including The Land of Darkness, winner of the Prix Femina for First Fiction, and In Silence, winner of the Jean Giono Second Novel Grand Prix.