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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 1

With more pretensions to scholarship than Gilbert


[148]

The constant confusion, in these quasi-classical romances, of masculine and feminine names is a rather curious feature. But the late Sir W. Gilbert played some tricks of the kind in _Pygmalion and Galatea_, and I remember an English novelist, with more pretensions to scholarship than Gilbert, making the particularly unfortunate blunder of attributing to Longus a book called "_Doris_ and Chloe."

[149] It is fair to say that Urfe has been praised for these historical excursions or incursions of his.

[150] Its difficulty of access in the French has been noted. The English translation may be less rare, but it is not a good one even of its kind. And, in face of the most false and misleading statements, never more frequent than at the present moment, about the efficacy of translations, it may be well to insist on the truth. For science, history philosophy (though in a descending ratio through these three) translations may serve. The man who knows Greek or Latin or any other _literature_ only through them knows next to nothing of that literature as such, and in its literary quality. The version may be, as in the leading case of FitzGerald's Omar Khayyam, literature itself of the highest class; but it is quite other literature than the original, and is, in fact, a new original itself. It may, while keeping closer, be as good as Catullus on Sappho or as bad as Mr. Gladstone on Toplady in form; but the form, even if copied,

is always again other.

[151] Some reasons will be given later for taking this first--not the least being the juxtaposition with the _Astree_. The actual order of the chief "Heroic" authors and books is as follows: Gomberville, _La Caritee_, 1622; _Polexandre_, 1632; _Citheree_, 1640-42. _La Calprenede_, _Cassandre_, 1642; _Cleopatre_, 1648; _Faramond_, 1662. Mlle. de Scudery, _Ibrahim_, 1641; _Artamene_, 1649; _Clelie_, 1656; _Almahide_, 1660.

[152] Cousin relieved his work on "The True, the Good, and the Beautiful" not only with elaborate disquisitions on the ladies of the Fronde who, though certainly beautiful were not very very good, but with a long exposition of French society as revealed in the _Grand Cyrus_ itself.

[153] Scudery bore, and evidently rejoiced in, this sounding title, which can never have had a titular to whom it was more appropriate. The place seems to have been an actual fortress, though a small one, near Marseilles.

[154] I blushed for my namesake when I found, some time afterwards, that he had copied this unusual (save in German) feminisation of the sun from Gomberville (_v. inf._ p. 240).

[155] That is classical education: in comparison with which "all others is cagmaggers."

[156] I have wavered a little between adopting French or Greek forms of names. But as the authors are not consistent, and as some of their more fanciful compounds classicalise badly, I have finally decided to stick to the text in every case, except in those of historical persons where French forms such as "Pisistrate" would jar.


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