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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 1

A resemblance in this to the famous Mlle


[334]

To put the drift of the above in other words, we do not need to hear any more of Marianne in any position, because we have had enough shown us to know generally what she would do, say, and think, in all positions.

[335] It has been observed that there is actually a Meredithian quality in Aristides of Smyrna, though he wrote no novel. A tale in Greek, to illustrate the parallel, would be an admirable subject for a University Prize.

[336] Two descriptions of "Marivaudage" (which, by the way, was partly anticipated by Fontenelle)--both, if I do not mistake, by Crebillon _fils_--are famous: "Putting down not only everything you said and thought, but also everything you would like to have thought and said, but did not," and, "Introducing to each other words which never had thought of being acquainted." Both of these perhaps hit the modern forms of the phenomenon even harder than they hit their original butt.

[337] It is only fair to the poor Prioress to say that there is hardly a heroine in fiction who is more deeply in love with her own pretty little self than Marianne.

[338] One does not know whether it was prudence, or that materialism which, though he was no _philosophe_, he shared with most of his contemporaries, which prevented Marivaux from completing this sharp though mildly worded criticism. The above-mentioned profane have hinted that

both the placidity and the indifference of the persons concerned, whether Catholic or Calvinist, arise from their certainty of their own safety in another world, and their looking down on less "guaranteed" creatures in this. It may be just permissible to add that a comparison of Chaucer's and Marivaux's prioresses will suggest itself to many persons, and should be found delectable by all fit ones.

[339] His books on Margaret of Anjou and William the Conqueror are odd crosses between actual historical essays and the still unborn historical novel.

[340] Mlle. de Launay, better known as Mme. de Staal-Delaunay, saw, as most would have seen, a resemblance in this to the famous Mlle. Aisse's. But the latter was bought as a little child by her provident "protector," M. de Ferreol. Mlle. Aisse herself had earlier read the _Memoires d'un Homme de Qualite_ and did not think much of them. But this was the earlier part. It would be odd if she had not appreciated Manon had she read it: but she died in the year of its appearance.

[341] The excellent but rather stupid editor of the [Dutch] _Oeuvres Choisies_ above noticed has given abstracts of Prevost's novels as well as of Richardson's, which the Abbe translated. These, with Sainte-Beuve's of the _Memoires_, will help those who want something more than what is in the text, while declining the Sahara of the original. But, curiously enough, the Dutchman does not deal with the end of _Cleveland_.

[342] He had a fit of apoplexy when walking, and instead of being bled was actually cut open by a village super-Sangrado, who thought him dead and only brought him to life--to expire actually in torment.

[343] Crebillon _pere_, tragedian and academician, is one of the persons who have never had justice done to them: perhaps because they never quite did justice to themselves. His plays are unequal, rhetorical, and as over-heavy as his son's work is over-light. But, if we want to find the true tragic touch of verse in the French eighteenth century, we must go to him.


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