FLAUBERT Gustave (1821-1880).

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FLAUBERT Gustave (1821-1880).
autograph manuscript, The Recognition of Sacountala, a Sanskrit drama and pracrit by Calidasa, [ca. 1846]; title and about 48 pages on 28 folios, (30 x 19 cm); in black morocco spine folder, gray suede lining, slipcase (small lack at one corner p. 5). Important and very interesting unpublished manuscript from his youth, related to his project of oriental tale. The project of oriental tale occupied Flaubert a lot in the years 1845-1848. Having returned from his trip to Italy and having finished the first Éducation sentimentale, he decided to write an "oriental tale", which would have been entitled Les Sept Fils du derviche. Of this unfinished project, which was succeeded by The Temptation of Saint Anthony, only various scenarios were written, published by Jean Bruneau in 1973 (Le "Conte oriental" de Flaubert. Documents inédits, Les Lettres nouvelles, 1973), then in volume II of the Œuvres complètes in the Bibliothèque de la Pléiade. Both to document himself and to catch the desired tone, Flaubert embarked on extensive oriental readings. Among these, Antoine-Léonard de Chézy's translation of La Reconnaissance de Sacountala, a Sanskrit drama and Calidasa's script, published for the first time, in original, on a unique manuscript in the King's Library, accompanied by a French translation (Dondey-Dupré, 1830). This is the edition Flaubert used for this manuscript, which he had asked his friend Emmanuel Vasse de Saint-Ouen in August 1846 to borrow for him from the Royal Library (in 1858 Théophile Gautier drew from it the libretto of the ballet-pantomime for Lucien Petipa, Sacountala, set to music by Ernest Reyer). On September 20, 1846, Flaubert confided to Maxime Du Camp: "I am beginning to be annoyed with Sacountala. Working on it only in the evening [...] I find that it does not advance quickly". This manuscript, which appears to be unpublished, forms a slightly abbreviated screenplay of the famous Indian drama. A comparison with Chézy's translation shows that many passages of the text, especially the dialogues, are copied verbatim by Flaubert, the rest being summarized. The romantic side of the story of this conjugal love must have seduced the young Flaubert: repudiated by her husband, King Douchmanta, following the curse of a mouni (wise man), Sacountala takes refuge in solitude, where she raises her son Bharata. Back at court, she is rejected by the king, who refuses to recognize her. But she finds the ring he had once given her and returns to him in grace. Flaubert has analyzed and summarized step by step the prologue and the seven acts of the drama. In fact, he does not hesitate to recopy at length the passages that have charmed him, and even to transcribe in the margin notes explaining certain Sanskrit words; thus, page 10 v°: "According to a note it is Hinna, henna, a ruddy color extracted from the Lawsonia inermis which is used to color the nails of the fingers and the feet. As for .../...the eyes, that is to say the edge of the eyelids whose line is prolonged a little beyond the external angle of the eye, it is collyrium that the Asian women use"... Obviously, Flaubert was very touched by the poetry of this drama. The very length of the manuscript (51 pages) attests to the delight with which he immersed himself in this oriental drama, which fascinated him, and also with what conscience he endeavored to extract the essential. Let us quote some extracts. About the Prologue, Flaubert notes (p. 1): "Dialogue between the Director of the theater and an actress. They pay each other compliments in the modern style. One can hardly believe that it is Indian"... Act I (p. 3). "Sacountala complains that Priyamvada has pulled her bark cloth garment too tightly over her breast. She can hardly breathe. Anousaya unties him. - Priyamvada: "Well then, my sweet friend, proudly develop this flower of youth that shines so brightly on your rounded breast. - Dushmanta: "Oh, how true she says! The cup of the lotus, through a greenish network of aquatic plants, is not less ravishing: the spots disseminated on the silver disc of the moon bring out its brightness even more; thus this beautiful girl, under her veil of bark, appears all the more seductive to my eyes". The young girls walk, they look at the flowers the malica and the amra. - Sacountala: "Oh, how delightful is this season when the trees themselves seem to unite in loving embraces. Doesn't it seem that this young plant has purposely placed its tender and delicate flowers under the protection of this robust tree, which is so full of fruit? Then, about a bee: "How delightful it is! On all the points where this light insect flutters, lighter than him, with what grace it chases him without slackening!... Too happy insect, you can thus in your flight brush the angle of this eye half closed, where the fear exci
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