Prosper Merimee (1803-70) wrote novels, plays and short-stories, the most well-known of which, Carmen (1845) was the inspiration for Bizet's famous opera. Philip Pullman is the author of the celebrated His Dark Materials trilogy: Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass, which was the first children's book to win the Whitbread Book Award.
When Jose meets a gypsy woman, he is intrigued by her exoticism, but he has no idea that his chance encounter with ‘the pretty witch’ will have disastrous consequences. With her magic and her malevolent spirit, Carmen exerts a powerful charm on the submissive and unwitting Jose, who is drawn into a seedy underworld of bandits and smugglers until he is driven to the ultimate revenge. In Carmen, Merimee introduced a classic literary type: the femme fatale who exploits her sexuality and mysterious air to ensnare and ultimately destroy the weak and unsuspecting man who is unfortunate enough to cross her path.