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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 2

In that case results can be attained anyhow


[265]

In articles written for the _Fortnightly Review_ during a large part of the year 1878, and reprinted in the volume of _Essays on French Novelists_ frequently referred to.

[266] _Vide_ the wonderful poem--one of Mr. Anon's pearls, but Donne's for more than a ducat--"Thou sent'st to me a heart was crowned," etc. However, the bitter remark quoted elsewhere (_v. inf._) looks like a lasting wound.

[267] I can conceive a modernist rising up and saying, "And your mawkish ante-nuptial wooings? Haven't _we_ had enough of _them_?" To which I should reply, "Impossible." The sages of old have rightly said that 'The way of a man with a maid' is a mystery always, and the proofs thereof are well seen in literature as in life. But the way of an extra-man with another person's wife can, as illustrated, if not demonstrated, by the myriads of treatises thereon in French and the thousands of imitations in other languages (reinforced, if not the Stoic scavenger-researcher so pleases, by the annals of the Divorce Court and its predecessors), be almost scientifically reduced to two classes. (1) Is the lady _adulteraturient_? In that case results can be attained anyhow. (2) Is she not? In that case results can be attained nohow. Which considerably minishes the interest of this situation. The interest of the other is the interest of "the world's going round" in quality, and almost infinitely various in detail. But when something has

once happened the variety ceases, or is immensely reduced.

[268] "_Bien! mon sang._" I suppose "democratic" sentiment is quite insensible to this, which seems to be a pity.

[269] I think it should be added to Sandeau's credit that (as it appears to me at least) he had a strong influence on the reaction against Naturalism at the end of the century.

[270] Most of his contemporaries would have envied him this admirably _moyen-age_ and sonorous designation. But it is certainly cumbrous for a title-page, and its owner--a modest man with a sense of humour--may perhaps have thought that it _might_ be rather more ridiculous than sublime there.

[271] As is usual and natural with men of his time, La Vendee mostly supplies it; but that glorious failure did not inspire him quite so well as it did Sandeau or even (_v. inf._) Edouard Ourliac. However, he was a sound Royalist, for which peace be to his soul!

[272] Who, by the way, was a good friend and a good appreciator of Bernard.

[273] For any one who cares for the minor "arts and crafts" of literature this is _the_ example of Adaptation itself. The story is not translated; it is not imitated; it is not parodied. It is simply _transfused_ from one body of a national literature into another, and I defy the acutest and most experienced critic to find in the English, if he did not previously know the facts, any trace of a French original.

[274] Corinne made a great blunder: but admirers of Miss Austen have sometimes taken it as being greater than it was. "Vulgaire" and "vulgar" are by no means exact synonyms: in fact the French word is probably used much oftener in a more or less inoffensive sense than otherwise.


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