Paul and Virginia by John Donovan
Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre's only novel is a classic of naive love. First published in 1788 to wide acclaim, it subsequently appeared in hundreds of editions throughout the world and influenced a generation of French writers, from George Sand and Lamartine to Balzac and Flaubert. In modern times it has inspired movies such as The Blue Lagoon, major musicals, artworks, a hit song by Celine Dion and even a chain of luxury hotels on Mauritius! Bernardin was inspired by his friend Rousseau to tell the story of two children who grow up entirely according to nature's laws, on a paradise island, free from the corrupting influence of the world. They reach adolescence and fall in love, but tragedy strikes and both die untimely deaths. A key text in the development of the novel, Paul and Virginia is a must for anyone interested in the history of European literature.