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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 2

In pure chronological order Chateaubriand should come first


OTHER NOVELISTS OF 1870-1900 518

The last stage--Ferdinand Fabre--_L'Abbe Tigrane_--_Norine_, etc.--_Le Marquis de Pierrerue_--_Mon Oncle Celestin_--_Lucifer_--_Sylviane_ and _Taillevent_--_Toussaint Galabru_--Andre Theuriet--_Sauvageonne_--_Le Fils Maugars_--_Le Don Juan de Vireloup_ and _Raymonde_--General characteristics--Georges Ohnet--_Serge Panine_--_Le Maitre de Forges_--_Le Docteur Rameau_--_La Grande Marniere_--Reflections--Edouard Rod--_La Vie Privee de Michel Teissier_--_La Sacrifiee_--Note on _La Seconde Vie de M. T._--_Le Silence_--_La-Haut_--_La Course a la Mort_--_Le Menage du Pasteur Naudie_--_Mademoiselle Annette_--_L'Eau Courante_--_Scenes de la Vie Cosmopolite_--Catulle Mendes.






[Sidenote: Reasons for beginning with Mme. de Stael.]

It has often been thought, and sometimes said, that the period of the French Revolution

and of the Napoleonic wars--extending as it does strictly to more than a quarter of a century, while four decades were more than completed before a distinct turn of tide--is, for France, the least individual and least satisfactorily productive time in all her great literature. And it is, to a large extent, true. But the loss of individuality implies the presence of indiscernibility; and not to go out of our own department, there are at least three writers who, if but partially, cancel this entry to discredit. Of one of them--the lowest in general literature, if not quite in our division of it--Pigault-Lebrun--we have spoken in the last volume. The other two--much less craftsmanlike novelists merely as such, but immeasurably greater as man and woman of letters--remain for discussion in the first chapter of this. In pure chronological order Chateaubriand should come first, as well as in other "ranks" of various kinds. But History, though it may never neglect, may sometimes overrule Chronology by help of a larger and higher point of view: sex and birth hardly count here, and the departmental primes the intrinsic literary importance. Chateaubriand, too, was a little younger than Madame de Stael in years, though his actual publication, in anything like our kind, came before hers. And he reached much farther than she did, though curiously enough some of his worst faults were more of the eighteenth century than hers. She helped to finish "Sensibility"; she transformed "Philosophism" into something more modern; she borrowed a good deal (especially in the region of aesthetics) that was to be importantly germinal from Germany. But she had practically nothing of that sense of the past and of the strange which was to rejuvenate all literature, and which he had; while she died before the great French Romantic outburst began. So let us begin with her.[8]

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