Written as a satire of Parisian society in the wake of the Dreyfus Affair, this novel was dismissed prurient critics of the time as pornography. Mirbeau brings a journalist's analytical eye to the chambermaid Celestine's adventures as she loses her innocence and becomes as corrupt and depraved as the men who exploit her. Realistic and compelling, the story has attracted the attention of many artists, including Jean Renoir and Luis Brunel, who filmed it; and it has been compared with Fanny Hill and the Marquis de Sade's Justine and Juliette.
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Octave Mirbeau (1848-1917) was an anarchist and radical journalist who is best known today for his powerful indictments of French society. He wrote to revenge society for his upbringing.Review:
Passionate, calculating, only sometimes honorable but always honest, Celestine is one of the great female characters in literature. -- Rhoda Koenig in The Sunday Times
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