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Pierre Loti (a nom de plume) was for many years an officer in the French Navy, giving him the opportunity to sample and analyze different national and cultural milieux, in which he deeply immersed himself. The present book, said to have formed the basis for the famous "Madame Butterfly" story, is presented as an autobiographical account of his marriage to a young Japanese woman while his ship was stationed in Nagasaki. His style is surprisingly modern for the period, perhaps anticipating Camus. His descriptions of summer in Nagasaki have a detail which is at the same time personal and detached, while his observations of the people are less than sympathetic. A sense of ennui and lack of conventional morality pervades.

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