Lot n° 77
3000 - 4000
FLAUBERT Gustave (1821-1880).
L.A.S. "Gve Flaubert", Saturday [late March-early April 1857], to Maurice SCHLESINGER; 4 pages in-8 on blue paper.
Beautiful letter to the future model of Jacques Arnoux in L'Éducation sentimentale, about his works, and thundering against stupidity.
[The music publisher Maurice SCHLESINGER (1798-1871) married Élisa Foucault, Flaubert's first youthful love; he will be one of Jacques Arnoux's models in L'Éducation sentimentale. Here Flaubert discusses Madame Bovary, soon to be published in bookstores, The Temptation of Saint Anthony, and his documentation work for Salammbô]. "Do not think that I have forgotten you, my dear Maurice. I have been writing to you for a long month and more each day. But I am really (let me pass on the ridiculousness of the admission) a very busy man. This is the first year since my existence that I have led a materially active life, and I am exhausted. - I will never forget you. [I am of the nature of camels, which cannot be made to walk when they are at rest and which cannot be stopped when they are on the move. But my heart is like their hunchback: it supports heavy loads easily and never bends. [...] But, my dear friend, here is my present situation: 1° I have a volume [Madame Bovary] which is going to be published in 15 days [...] I must watch over the publication of the aforementioned book.
2° I had another one ready to be published, but the rigor of the times forces me to postpone its publication indefinitely.
3° In order to support my debut (whose brilliance, as they say in advertising style, has exceeded my expectations), I must hasten to make another one - and to hasten is for me, in literature, to kill oneself. So I am busy at the moment taking notes for an antique study [Salammbô] that I will write this summer - very slowly. Now, as I want to start at the end of next month, and as in Rouen it is impossible for me to get the books I need, - I read and annotate at the Libraries from morning to evening - and at home, at night, very late. This, my good man, is my situation. I am very unhappy, because I get up every day at eight o'clock in the morning - which is a torment to yours truly. [...]
How I have been bothered this winter! my lawsuit! - my quarrels with the Revue de Paris! and the advice! and the friends! and the politeness! - They are even beginning to demolish me and I have at present on my table a beautiful erasure of my novel, published by a gentleman whose existence I was completely unaware of [Edmond Duranty]. You can't imagine the infamies that reign and what the small press is now! All this is legitimate. For the public is equal to all the scoundrels with which they are regaled. But what saddens me deeply is the general stupidity. The ocean is neither deeper nor wider. - One must have a proud moral health, I assure you, to live in Paris, now. - What does it matter, after all! One must close one's door & windows - shrivel up like a hedgehog, light a large fire in one's fireplace, since it is cold, evoke in one's heart a great idea (memory or dream) and thank God when it arrives.
I never pass in front of the rue de Grammont or in the rue Richelieu without thinking of you. How I regret that you are no longer there. You are inevitably linked to the best memories of my youth. Do you know that we have known each other for more than twenty years? All this plunges me into abysses of reverie... which smell of old age. - They say that the present is too fast. I find, me, that it is the past which devours us "...
Correspondence (Pléiade), t. II, p. 700.
Return to catalogue