The Greek Girl's Story by Abbé PrévostThe Greek Girl's Story by Abbé Prévost

The Greek Girl's Story

byAbbé PrévostTranslated bySingerman, Alan J.Foreword byJean Sgard

Paperback | April 22, 2015

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With The Greek Girl’s Story, Alan Singerman presents the first reliable, stand-alone translation and critical edition of Abbé Prévost’s 1740 literary masterpiece Histoire d’une Grecque moderne. The text of this new English translation is based on Singerman’s 1990 French edition, which Jonathan Walsh called “arguably the most valuable critical edition” of Prévost’s novel to date. This new edition also includes a complete critical apparatus comprising a substantial introduction, notes, appendixes, and bibliography, all significantly updated from the 1990 French edition, taking into account recent scholarship on this work and providing some additional reflection on the question of Orientalism.

Prévost’s roman à clef is based on a true story involving the French ambassador to the Ottoman Porte from 1699 to 1711. It is narrated from the ambassador’s viewpoint and is a model of subjective, unreliable narration (long before Henry James). It is remarkably modern in its presentation of an enigmatic, ambiguous character, as the truth about the heroine can never be established with certainty. It is the story of the tormented relationship between the diplomat and a beautiful young Greek concubine, Théophé, whom he frees from a pasha’s harem. While her benefactor becomes increasingly infatuated with her and bent on becoming her lover, the Greek girl becomes obsessed with the idea of becoming a virtuous and respected woman. Viewing the ambassador as a father figure, she condemns his quasi-incestuous passion and firmly rejects his repeated seduction attempts. Unable to possess the young woman or tolerate the thought that she might grant to someone else what she has refused him, the narrator subjects her behavior to minute scrutiny in an effort to catch her in an indiscretion. His investigations are fruitless, however, and Théophé, the victim of incessant persecution, simply dies, leaving all the questions about her behavior unanswered.

Alan J. Singerman is Richardson Professor Emeritus of French at Davidson College.
Title:The Greek Girl's StoryFormat:PaperbackDimensions:248 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.69 inPublished:April 22, 2015Publisher:Penn State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0271063920

ISBN - 13:9780271063928

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Table of Contents


Foreword by Jean Sgard



The Greek Girl’s Story

Book One

Book Two

Appendix 1: Contemporary Source Texts for The Greek Girl’s Story

Appendix 2: Life and Works of the Abbé Prévost


Works Consulted

Editorial Reviews

“At one time a Benedictine monk, Antoine-François Prévost (1697–1763) was a man of dubious morality fascinated by scandal and the struggle between virtue and desire. As a novelist, he wrote about enigmatic historical and fictional characters, exploring their hypocrisy, madness, and disgrace. His Histoire d’une Grecque moderne (1740), based on the actual experiences of a French ambassador to the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of the 18th century, may not be as well known as his sentimental novel Manon Lescaut (1731), but it is nevertheless a classic literary masterpiece that well deserves this outstanding new translation. . . . [This] is the first accurate, single-volume translation and critical edition of the novel. Singerman provides a fascinating introduction, extensive footnotes, and a highly reliable English rendering of Prévost’s powerful narrative, which is clearly far more than just a roman à clef. Summing up: Essential.”—C. B. Kerr, Choice