The George Sand-Gustave Flaubert Letters

CCI. To George Sand

Never, dear good master, have you given such a proof of your inconceivable candor! Now, seriously, you think that you have offended me! The first page is almost like excuses! It made me laugh heartily! Besides, you can always say everything to me, to me! everything! Your blows will be caresses to me.

Now let us talk again! I continually repeat my insistence on justice! Do you see how they are denying it everywhere? Has not modern criticism abandoned art for history? The intrinsic value of a book is nothing in the school of Sainte-Beuve and Taine. They take everything into consideration there except talent. Thence, in the petty journals, the abuse of personality, the biographies, the diatribes. Conclusion: lack of respect on the part of the public.

In the theatre, the same thing. They don’t bother about the play, but the lesson to be preached. Our friend Dumas dreams the glory of Lacordaire, or rather of Ravignan! To prevent the tucking up of petticoats has become with him obsession. We can not have progressed very far since all morality consists for women, in not committing adultery, and for men in abstaining from theft! In short, the first injustice is practised by literature; it has no interest in esthetics, which is only a higher justice. The romantics will have a fine account to render with their immoral sentimentality. Do you recall a bit of Victor Hugo in la Legende des siecles, where a sultan is saved because he had pity on a pig? it is always the story of the penitent thief blessed because he has repented! To repent is good, but not to do evil is better. The school of rehabilitations has led us to see no difference between a rascal and an honest man. I became enraged once before witnesses, against Sainte-Beuve, while begging him to have as much indulgence for Balzac as he had for Jules Lecomte. He answered me, calling me a dolt! That is where BREADTH OF VIEW leads you.

They have so lost all sense of proportion, that the war council at Versailles treats Pipe-en-Bois more harshly than M. Courbet, Maroteau is condemned to death like Rossel! It is madness! These gentlemen, however, interest me very little. I think that they should have condemned to the galleys all the Commune, and have forced these bloody imbeciles to clear up the ruins of Paris, with a chain on their necks, like ordinary convicts. But that would have wounded HUMANITY. They are kind to the mad dogs, and not at all to the people whom the dogs have bitten.

That will not change so long as universal suffrage is what it is. Every man (as I think), no matter how low he is, has a right to ONE voice, his own, but he is not the equal of his neighbor, who may be worth a hundred times more. In an industrial enterprise (Societe anonyme), each holder votes according to the value of his contribution. It ought to be so in the government of a nation. I am worth fully twenty electors of Croisset. Money, mind, and even race ought to be reckoned, in short every resource. But up to the present I only see one! numbers! Ah! dear master, you who have so authority, you ought to take the lead. Your articles in le Temps, which have had a great success, are widely read and who knows? You would perhaps do France a great service?

Aisse keeps me very busy, or rather provokes me. I have not seen Chilly, I have had to do with Duquesnel. They are depriving me definitely of the senior Berton and proposing his son. He is very nice, but he is not at all the type conceived by the author. The Theatre Francais perhaps would ask nothing better than to take Aisse! I am very perplexed, and it is going to be necessary for me to decide. As for waiting till a literary wind arises, as it will never arise in my lifetime, it is better to risk the thing at once.

These theatrical affairs disturb me greatly, for I was in great form. For the last month I was even in an exaltation bordering on madness!

I have met the unavoidable Harrisse, a man who knows everyone, and who is a judge of everything, theatre, novels, finances, politics, etc. What a race is that of enlightened men!!! I have seen Plessy, charming and always beautiful. She asked me to send you a thousand friendly messages.

For my part, I send you a hundred thousand affectionate greetings.

Your old friend

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Last updated Friday, March 14, 2014 at 21:53