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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 1

More attractive than the divine Astree herself


M. Reynier (most justly, but of course after many predecessors) points out that the common filiation of these things on Marini and Gongora is chronologically impossible. We could, equally of course, supply older examples still in English; and persons of any reading can carry the thing back through sixteenth- and fifteenth-century examples to the Dark Ages and the late Greek classics--if no further.

[135] It is fair to say that the first is "make-weighted" with a pastoral play entitled _Athlette_, from the heroine's rather curious name.

[136] It _has_ two poems and some miscellanea. Something like this is the case with another bookmaker of the class, Du Souhait.

[137] It may be childish, but the association in this group of ladies--three of them bearing some of the greatest historic names of France, and the fourth that of the admirable critic with no other namesake of whom I ever met--seemed to me interesting. It is perhaps worth adding that Isabel de Rochechouart seems to have been not merely dedicatee but part author of the first tale.

[138] The habit is common with these authors.

[139] He gives more analysis than usual, but complains of the author's "affectation and bad taste." I venture to think this relatively rather harsh, though it is positively too true of the whole group.

justify;">[140] _La Vie et les Oeuvres de Honore d'Urfe._ Par le Chanoine O. C. Reure, Paris, 1910.

[141] The Abbe Reure, to whom I owe my own knowledge of the translation and dedication, says nothing more.

[142] M. Reynier, in the useful book so often quoted, has shown that, as one would expect, this influence is not absent from the smaller French love-novels which preceded the _Astree_; indeed, as we saw, it is obvious, though in a form of more religiosity, as early as the _Heptameron_. But it was not till the seventeenth century in France, or till a little before it in some cases with us, that "Love in fantastic triumph sat" between the shadowing wings of sensual and intellectual passion.

[143] They had, indeed, neither luck nor distinction after Honore's death: and the last of the family died, like others of the renegade nobles of France, by his own hand, to escape the guillotine which he himself had helped to establish.

[144] The more orthodox "laws of love" which Celadon puts up in his "Temple of Astraea" are less amusing.

[145] He constantly plays this part of referee and moraliser. But he is by no means exempt from the pleasing fever of the place, and some have been profane enough to think his mistress, Diane, more attractive than the divine Astree herself.

[146] Very delicate persons have been shocked by the advantages afforded to Celadon in his disguise as the Druid's daughter, and the consequent familiarity with the innocent unrecognising heroine. But _honi soit_ will cover them.

[147] There is plenty of this, including a regular siege of the capital, Marcilly.

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