Lot n° 74
3000 - 4000
Result with fees
: 16 740EUR
FLAUBERT Gustave (1821-1880).
L.A.S. " Gve Flaubert ", Paris January 14 , to Élisa SCHLESINGER; 4 pages in-8 on blue paper.
Very beautiful letter telling his youthful love about the trial of Madame Bovary.
[Élisa SCHLESINGER (1810-1888), born
Foucault, wife of the music publisher Maurice Schlesinger, was Flaubert's first love, who met her in Trouville when he was only fifteen; she was the model for the character of Madame Arnoux in L'Éducation sentimentale]. "How touched I was, dear Madame, by your good letter! The questions you ask me about the author and the book have been answered, don't doubt it: here is the whole story. The Revue de Paris, where I published my novel (from 1st October to 15th October) had already been warned twice, as a newspaper hostile to the government. Now, it was found that it would be very clever to suppress it at once, because of its immorality and irreligion, so that some licentious & impious passages were randomly found in my book. I had to appear before the examining magistrate, and the procedure began. But I had friends vigorously stirred up, who, like me, had waded a little in the upper reaches of the capital. In short, everything is stopped, I am assured, although I still have no official answer. I don't doubt the success, it was too stupid. So I will be able to publish my novel in volume. You will receive it in about six weeks, I think - and I will mark the offending passages for your entertainment. One of them - a description of extreme unction - is only a page from the Paris Ritual, given in French; - but the good people who see to the maintenance of Religion are not strong in catechism.
In any case, I would have been condemned, condemned all the same, to a year in prison, not to mention a thousand francs in fines. Moreover, each new volume of your friend would have been cruelly watched and peeled by Messrs. of the police, and the recurrence would have led me, again on "the wet straw of the dungeons" for five years: in a word, it would have been impossible for me to print a line.
So I have just learned: 1° that it is very unpleasant to be caught in a political affair; 2° that social hypocrisy is a serious thing. But she was so stupid, this time, that she was ashamed of herself, let go & went back to her hole.
As for the book itself, which is moral - archi-moral, & to which one would give the Montyon prize if it had a less frank appearance (an honor I have little ambition for), it has obtained all the success that a novel can have in a Review. I have received some very nice compliments from my colleagues, true or false, I don't know. I am even assured that Mr de Lamartine sings my praise very high - which surprises me a lot, because everything in my work must irritate him? - La Presse and Le Moniteur have made me some very honest proposals. - I have been asked to write a comic opera (- comic! comic!) and my Bovary has been mentioned in various large and small papers. There you have it, dear Madam, & without any modesty, the balance of my glory.
Don't worry about the critics, they will spare me, because they know that I will never walk in their shadow and take their place. On the contrary, they will be charming. It is so sweet to break the old pots with the new jugs!
So I will resume my poor life, so flat & quiet, where sentences are adventures and where I pick no other flowers than metaphors. I will write as in the past, for the sole pleasure of writing, for myself alone, without any ulterior motive of money or fuss. Apollo, no doubt, will take me into account, and I may one day produce something beautiful! - because everything yields, doesn't it, to the continuity of an energetic feeling. Each dream ends up finding its form. There are waves for all thirsts, love for all hearts.
And then nothing makes better pass the life that the incessant preoccupation of an idea, that an ideal, as say the grisettes... Madness for madness, let's take the most noble ones. Since we cannot remove the sun, it is necessary to block all our windows and to light chandeliers in our room. [...]
He went to Rue Richelieu to get news of her. "You will never come to Paris! Your exile is eternal! [...] If I understood the joy you spoke of, I also understood the sadness you kept from me. When the days will be too long or too empty, think a little of the one who kisses your hands very affectionately" ....
Correspondence (Pléiade), t. II, p. 664.
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