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With its Late Romantic emphasis on passion and beauty, "The Red Lily" is very much a novel of its time (the 1890s). The settings are contemporary Paris and Florence. The people are rich, cultured, and fashionable: Parisian socialites, aristocrats, artists, and politicians. At the heart of the book is a lovely young woman, Therese Martin-Belleme, the daughter of a new-rich banker, married to an aspiring titled politician. Husband and wife are indifferent to one another. Therese has a paramour, Robert, but finds him rather dull too. She leaves both men behind to spend a long holiday in Tuscany, where she falls in love with a jealous sculptor named Jacques Dechartre. He is given to exclamations of the following sort: "Like incense I breathe the charm of your intellect, the inspiration of your courage, the pride of your soul. When you speak I seem to see your soul on your lips, and I die because I cannot press mine to yours. Your soul is for me but the expression of your beauty." Translation of Le Lys Rouge. Anatole France was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1921 "in recognition of his brilliant literary achievements, characterized as they are by a nobility of style, a profound human sympathy, grace, and a true Gallic temperament."
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