“Of course, I have nothing to complain about,” he said as he finished telling me his simple and none too romantic story, which you will soon be reading. “For, thank God, I am no longer someone to even assume that I was ever anything at all, and I wish for many ambitious men to have a happy ending such as my own. I have found certainty and rest, which are better than all possibilities. I have also come to terms with myself, which is perhaps the greatest victory that one can have over the impossible.”
During a trip to France, I found this book in a bookstore and liking the first page, I took a chance on the book and bought it for 5 euros. Only one other English translation has ever been done of this novel. That translation was published in the 1940s and done by Sir Edward Marsh. Wanting to translate this work for a more modern audience, I spent two and a half years translating this book into English so that others may enjoy this story as much as I did when I read it in the original French!
The story of Dominique takes place in provincial France in the mid-19th century. While out hunting one day in the village of Villeneuve, the unnamed narrator makes the acquaintance of Dominique de Bray, a well-respected man in his community. The two men forge a friendship and Dominique welcomes his new friend into his happy household. After tragedy strikes one of Dominique’s closest friends, Olivier d’Orsel, Dominique spends a rainy afternoon telling his new friend the melancholy story of his tormented life and his impossible love for Madeleine de Nièvres, Olivier’s cousin.
Published in 1863, Dominique was the only novel that Eugène Fromentin, best known for his work as a painter depicting life in French Algeria, ever wrote. In this “simple and none too romantic story,” Fromentin retraces the life of a man who is loved by all as a respected citizen in his village and as a devoted father, but who cannot help but relive his tortured past.