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The Scapegoat (1957)

af Daphne du Maurier

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MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
1,5344611,724 (3.92)206
By chance, John and Jean — one English, the other French — meet in a provincial railway station. Their resemblance to each other is uncanny, and they spend the next few hours talking and drinking - until at last John falls into a drunken stupor. It's to be his last carefree moment, for when he wakes, Jean has stolen his identity and disappeared. So the Englishman steps into the Frenchman's shoes, and faces a variety of perplexing roles - as owner of a chateau, director of a failing business, head of a fractious family, and master of nothing. Gripping and complex, The Scapegoat is a masterful exploration of doubling and identity, and of the dark side of the self. "A dazzlingly clever and immensely entertaining novel."- New York Times… (mere)
  1. 20
    Huset ved stranden af Daphne Du Maurier (BonnieJune54)
    BonnieJune54: The main characters are similar and they are both going through dual lives.
  2. 10
    Som i et spejl af Tana French (bjappleg8)
  3. 00
    Ikke efter midnat og andre fortællinger af Daphne Du Maurier (jigarpatel)
    jigarpatel: More psychological thrillers, expertly adapted to the short story format (my review).
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Engelsk (45)  Spansk (1)  Alle sprog (46)
Viser 1-5 af 46 (næste | vis alle)
As always with du Maurier's work this is beautifully written. However, I'm not sure I really 100% believed the premise.

John is a university history lecturer, specialising in France, and a fluent French speaker. But he is falling into depression and finding life meaningless, feeling no connection with other people. On a holiday in France, while travelling to a monastery where he hopes the monks will give him answers to his spiritual crisis, he has a chance encounter with a man who looks exactly like him, and his whole life is changed. And so are the people that his doppelganger has decided to abandon - by drugging John and taking all his belongings and his identity - or maybe not, given the ending which I won't divulge.

John finds meaning and connection through his decision to go along with the pretence rather than make a huge fuss at the police station and try to convince them he is not the Comte de Gue, as everyone believes him to be, although at first he embarks upon the adventure as something to amuse him and distract him from his own depression. Gradually he comes to care for the various members of the Comte's family, and to learn what his alter ego has done to them in the past. For Jean de Gue has a dark past, it transpires. And John also begins to take on the identity of the Comte as a kind of alternative more confident self; a darker self, until he almost becomes capable of the kind of dark deed the Comte has committed.

There is a great build up at the end of the novel, but it is not really delivered on. I was expecting something much more dramatic. So I can only give this 3 stars. ( )
  kitsune_reader | Nov 23, 2023 |
This is one of du Maurier's less well known novels, but it is very well written and atmospheric. Published and set in the 1950s, the titular character is John, a lonely Englishman staying in France who is an expert in Medieval French history, but who is affected with a vast ennui about his life and future. In a hotel bar in Le Mans he bumps into Jean comte de Gué, who is his exact physical double. They drink and dine, compare experiences of dissatisfaction with their own lives, and English John cannot tear himself away. The next morning he wakes up in a hotel room to find the comte has taken all his clothes and possessions and left him his own, forcing a swap of their lives on him. He encounters the comte's family and, while the story is very well told, and actions have their internal logic, he is accepted by the household far too readily for me, which I simply cannot believe would happen as it does here, notwithstanding that there are tensions and a lack of intimacy with his wife. He forms a bond with the count's daughter who accepts him utterly, but is otherwise very wise for her age. In fact, initially only the dog smells that something is wrong - though towards the end Jean's lover Béla also surmises his identity. John is kinder than his French counterpart and tries to put to right some wrongs. Jean returns in the end, and the novel ends somewhat unsatisfactorily with Jean resuming his role as count and John driving off to "find himself" in a nearby monastery, as he had been about to do at the outset. The descriptions of the French countryside and the way of life are very evocative of a timeless quality. ( )
  john257hopper | Apr 23, 2023 |
If you have ever read any of Daphne du Maurier’s novels, you will immediately recognize what I mean when I say the narrator here is another of her identity-free individuals. Like the new Mrs. De Winter in Rebecca or the tour guide brother in Flight of the Falcon, this narrator is a person without any sense of importance, sense of self or sense of his own value. He is so unloved and disconnected that he can assume another man’s life and involve himself immediately in the other man’s world to the point of burying himself inside the other man’s skin.

A scapegoat: a person who is blamed for the wrongdoings, mistakes, or faults of others. What an inspired title for Daphne du Maurier’s thrilling novel of exchanged identity. When John, an Englishman whose area of expertise is France, meets his doppelganger, the Comte Jean de Gue, he finds himself unexpectedly tricked into trading places. He goes from having no life or ties to being responsible for the complexities of a chateaux and the lives that revolve around it, and he finds out that the life he has assumed is one of a dubious and sometimes cruel individual.

"One had no right to play with other people's lives. One should not interfere with their emotions. A word, a look, a smile, a frown, did something to another human being, waking response or aversion, and a web was woven which had no beginning and no end, spreading outward and inward too, merging, entangling, so that the struggle of one depended on the struggle of the other."

As our narrator uncovers the secrets of Jean’s life, he begins to insert his own sensibilities into the lives he controls. But does he see these people as they are, or does he supply his on version of them? Does he help them, or does he simply confuse and disrupt their lives? What would they think if they knew he was just a stranger playing at being their son, husband, father, brother, lover or master? And, what does he discover about himself along the way?

Nobody writes romantic gothic fiction like du Maurier. She knows how to make something subtle important. She has great command of the psychological thriller and weaves her tales to that you are never far from the edge of your seat. She writes descriptions that turn buildings into characters, and characters that emerge as real people.

If you have never read du Maurier, you are missing one of the great writers. If you have not read this book, you are missing a treat. ( )
1 stem mattorsara | Aug 11, 2022 |
John, un profesor inglés de Historia, soltero y de mediana edad, pasa, como todos los años, sus vacaciones en Francia. En Le Mans se encuentra por casualidad con un tipo que es físicamente igual a él. Asombrados por el parecido, se emborrachan juntos y se cuentan sus desdichas. John le habla de su vida solitaria y sin sentido y el otro –el conde Jean Le Gué– le deja entrever que su problema es exactamente el contrario: «Poseo demasiadas cosas. Cosas humanas». A la mañana siguiente, John despierta en un hotel de mala muerte, sus cosas han sido sustituidas por las del conde y un solícito chófer le espera para llevarle a casa. La casa resulta ser un antiguo château con foso, torreones y gárgolas… y es así como se encuentra de pronto al frente de una familia escabrosa, un negocio ruinoso y una nueva identidad siempre en peligro de ser desenmascarada.

Daphne du Maurier siempre fue maestra del punto de vista y una virtuosa del arte de la intriga y el incidente. En El chivo expiatorio (1957), construyó una novela compleja, llena de suspense y ambigüedades morales, a partir de una de sus situaciones características: la llegada de un extraño a una mansión y su arduo proceso de adaptación a un ambiente de viejos odios, deseos malignos, sospechas y secretos de los tiempos de la ocupación nazi, todo ello contado por el propio extraño. El libro desarrolla asimismo un moderno discurso sobre la identidad como creación de los deseos y expectativas de los otros.
  bibliotecayamaguchi | Oct 5, 2021 |
The story is very involved and meticulously told. Every mannerism, glance and even photograph is imbued with tremendous meaning. Having read a few novels of this era, this seems to be something endemic to the period and not unique to this author.

The story is intriguing, if not terribly dramatic. I have a feeling there was an intent to dramatize a grand moral dilemma, but it doesn't really have that punch. ( )
  grandpahobo | Sep 21, 2021 |
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du Maurier, Daphneprimær forfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Appignanesi, LisaIntroduktionmedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Cardi, Alma ReeseDesignermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Scarpi, N. O.Oversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
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The Scapegoat, Daphe du Maurier's eleventh novel, first appeared in 1957.
I left the car by the side of the cathedral, and then walked down the steps into the Place des Jacobins.
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By chance, John and Jean — one English, the other French — meet in a provincial railway station. Their resemblance to each other is uncanny, and they spend the next few hours talking and drinking - until at last John falls into a drunken stupor. It's to be his last carefree moment, for when he wakes, Jean has stolen his identity and disappeared. So the Englishman steps into the Frenchman's shoes, and faces a variety of perplexing roles - as owner of a chateau, director of a failing business, head of a fractious family, and master of nothing. Gripping and complex, The Scapegoat is a masterful exploration of doubling and identity, and of the dark side of the self. "A dazzlingly clever and immensely entertaining novel."- New York Times

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