FLAUBERT Gustave (1821-1880).

Lot 75
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FLAUBERT Gustave (1821-1880).
L.A.S. "Gve Flaubert", Tuesday [February 11, 1857, to his friend Frédéric BAUDRY]; 4 pages in-8 on blue paper (small cracks repaired). Interesting letter on Madame Bovary, between its publication in a review and the original edition. [Madame Bovary appeared in the Revue de Paris from October 1 to December 15, 1856. Flaubert was prosecuted for offence to morality and religion, and acquitted but censured on February 7, 1857. The original edition is published in April by Michel Lévy] He expects Baudry ("oh brave man") on Sunday, and will probably leave with him in the evening for Versailles, "in order to flee from the horns that tear my nerves apart. I suffered horribly from them during the last Carnival. I am in a dark state. La Bovary knocks me out! How I regret now to have published it! Everyone advises me to make a few slight corrections, out of prudence and good taste, etc. But this action seems to me an insignificant cowardice since in my conscience I see nothing blameworthy in my book (from the point of view of the strictest morality). That is why I told Levy to stop everything. I am still undecided. [...] And then? the future! What to write that is less inoffensive than this novel? People are revolted by an impartial painting. What to do? to bias, to joke? no! no! a thousand times no! So I have a strong desire to return & forever to my countryside and my silence, - and there, to continue to write for myself. For me alone. I will write true and full-bodied books, I can assure you. The insouciance of fame will give me a salutary stiffness. I have lost a lot this winter. I was better a year ago. I feel like a prostitute. In a word, the fuss that has been made about my first book seems so alien to art that I am disgusted with myself. Moreover, as I hold my esteem infinitely dear, I would like to keep it, and I am losing it. You know that I do not have the pruritus of typography. I will live very well without it. For it seems impossible to me to write a line while thinking of anything else than my work. My contemporaries will do without my sentences, - and I will do without their applause - & their courts. Social hypocrisy being the strongest, I bravely flee the battle - resigned to live henceforth like the humblest of the bourgeois "... Correspondence (Pléiade), t. II, p. 680.
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