FLAUBERT Gustave (1821-1880).

Lot 72
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FLAUBERT Gustave (1821-1880).
L.A.S. "your G", Sunday afternoon [March 19, 1854], to Louise COLET; 4 pages in-4. Long letter to Louise Colet about the difficult completion of Madame Bovary, the rumors about their affair, and the decadence of literature. "I wanted to write to you last night, good Muse, but I heard the bell at half past one, when I thought it was still only midnight. It was too late. - I have been these days (& still am a little) tormented by a rheumatism in my left shoulder and neck. It is the old Peloponnesian rains that are making themselves felt. I am like the old walls. The moisture comes out, in the spring. The evil of that is that it makes me think a lot about travels, about travels, very silly & sterile thoughts since I cannot do anything about it... - Anyway, my work, although going slowly and by dint of corrections and reworking, is progressing. In July I will see the end, all in one go, I hope. - But it is atrocious! the order of the ideas, here is the difficult one. - And then, as my subject is always the same, that it takes place in the same environment, & that I am now two thirds of the way through, I don't know how to avoid repetition. The simplest sentence like "he closed the door", "he went out", etc., requires incredible art tricks! It is a question of varying the sauce continuously and with the same ingredients. - I cannot save myself by the Fantasy, since there is not in this book a movement in my name, & that the personality of the author is completely absent. - I fear that B. [Bouilhet] will yell at me at Easter! He seems to me to be rather annoyed by the corrections of his Homme Futur. The damage is not as great as he thinks. - & what he sent me this morning is very good. - Finally, all this will end in a few months. We will be together more often - and if our work is not better, our people will at least be more comfortable. - The servant I am to take to Paris is leaving here now. - We have made our agreements. I told him to be ready next October. I am horribly bored this afternoon. It's a stupid gray day - & I'm not working! Do you know that you wrote me a very charming & kind letter, dear Louise? I'm glad you have hope - I do too. I am counting on de VIGNY, who seems to me to be a good man (he calls himself a slave, which seems to me to be in somewhat worse taste) & if he is as Préault thinks he is, my jealousy sleeps peacefully." .../... Then he puts things in perspective by reporting his dialogue with Mme Cloquet about his affair with Louise: "Ah! ah! ah! it's true. I love her very much, I see her very often. But I beg you to believe that the rest is a slander" & I continued by joking about myself & accusing me of being physically incapable of love, which excited much hilarity from Mr. & Mrs. - You can be sure that I held the middle ground between backsliding and impudence. They will have believed what they wanted, which is of little importance to me. As long as they don't bother me to my face, that's all I ask in these matters. I think they are even more certain of it now. But these are questions that are never answered yes, unless you are a cad or a fatty. For that is (still in the world's ideas) dishonoring the woman, or boasting of it. - No, a thousand gods, no, I have not disowned you. If you knew the depths of the pride of a man like me, you would not have had this suspicion. I only make concessions to the world in silence, but none in speech. I nod my head in front of his nonsense, but I don't take my hat off to him... After having evoked the family council case against the father of his niece Caroline, who "steals his nephew in the most scoundrel manner", he reacts to Louis BOUILHET's reading of his Fossils to Laurent-Pichat and Maxime Du Camp: "They are, all these good people, in such a noisy environment that it is impossible for them to listen, first of all - Then, even if they would have listened, it is one of those original works which are not made for everyone. [...] We have now reached such a weakness of taste, as a result of the debilitating diet we follow, that the slightest strong drink stupefies and dizzies. It has been two hundred years since French literature has taken to the air. It has closed its window to Nature. Also the wind of the wide horizons oppresses with suffocation the people of spirit (!) [...] Nothing but varnish - & then the barbarian, underneath: barbarism in white gloves! Cossacks' legs with scoured nails! Rose ointment, which smells of candlelight - Ah! we are low! - & it is sad to make literature in the XIXth century! one has neither base, nor echo. -One is more alone than a Bedouin in the desert. For the Bedouin, at least, knows the springs hidden under the sand. He has the immensity
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