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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 2

Separately considered from its curve and its nostrils


[433] The favouritism declined, and the history of its decline was anecdotised in a fashion somewhat _gaulois_, but quite harmless. "Uncle Beuve," to the astonishment of literary mankind, put the portrait of this "nephew" of his in his _salon_. After _Daniel_ (I think) it was moved to the dining-room, and thence to his bedroom. Later it was missed even there, and was, or was said to be, relegated to _un lieu plus intime encore_. The _trovatore_ of this probably remembered his Rabelais.

[434] The labour of reading the book has been repaid by a few useful specimens of Feydeau's want of anything like distinction of thought or style. He makes his hero (whom he does not in the least mean for a fool, though he is one) express surprise at the fact that when he was _in statu pupillari_ he liked _fredaines_, but when he became his own master did not care about them! Again: "Were I to possess the power and infinite charm of HIM [_sic_] who invented the stars I could never exactly paint the delightful creature who stood before me." Comment on either of these should be quite needless. Again: "Her nose, by a happy and bold curve, joined itself to the lobes, lightly expanded, of her diaphanous nostrils." Did it never occur to the man that a nose, separately considered from its curve and its nostrils, is terribly like that of La Camarde herself? I wasted some time over the tedious trilogy of _Un Debut a L'Opera_, _M. de Saint Bertrand_, _Le Mari de la Danseuse_. Nobody--not even anybody _qui_ Laclos _non odit_--need follow me.

[435] Their author wrote others--_Babolin_, _Autour d'une Source_ etc. But the wise who can understand words will perhaps confine themselves to _Mr., Mme. et Bebe_ and its sequel.

[436] Cf. _inf._ on M. Rod.

[437] There is a paper on Cherbuliez in _Essays on French Novelists_, where fuller account of individual works, and very full notice, with translations, of _Le Roman d'une Honnete Femme_ and _Meta Holdenis_ will be found.

[438] _History of Criticism_, vol. iii. See also below.

[439] The author of the _Fleurs du Mal_ himself might have been distinguished in prose fiction. The _Petits Poemes en Prose_ indeed abstain from story-interest even more strictly than their avowed pattern, _Gaspard de la Nuit_. But _La Fanfarlo_ is capitally told.

[440] Hugo might do this; hardly a Hugonicule.

[441] There used to be a fancy for writing books about groups of characters. Somebody might do worse in book-making than "Great Editors," and Veuillot should certainly be one of them.

[442] The inadvertences which characterise him could hardly be better instanced than in his calling the eminent O'Donovan Rossa "_le depute-martyr_ de Tipperary." In English, if not in French, a "deputy-martyr" is a delightful person.

[443] Its articles are made up--rather dangerously, but very skilfully--of shorter reviews of individual books published sometimes at long intervals.

[444] Who replied explosively.

[445] There used to be something of a controversy whether it should be thus or Aur_e_villy. But the modern editions, at least, never have the accent.


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