The George Sand-Gustave Flaubert Letters

CCLXXXIV. To George Sand Wednesday, 2nd December, 1874

I am having remorse about you. It is a crime to let so long a time elapse without answering such a letter as your last. I was waiting to write to you until I had something definite to tell you about le Sexe faible. What is definite is that I took it away from the Cluny a week ago. The cast that Weinschenk proposed to me was odiously stupid and he did not keep the promises that he made. But, God be thanked, I withdrew in time. At present my play has been offered to the Gymnase. No news up to now from Montigny.

I am worrying like five hundred devils about my book, asking myself sometimes if I am not mad to have undertaken it. But, like Thomas Diafoirus, I am stiffening myself against the difficulties of execution which are frightful. I need to learn a heap of things about which I am ignorant. In a month I hope to finish with the agriculture and the gardening, and I shall only then be at the second third of my first chapter.

Speaking of books, do read Fromont et Risler, by my friend Daudet, and les Diaboliques, by my enemy Barbey d’Aurevilly. You will writhe with laughter. It is perhaps owing to the perversity of my mind, which likes unhealthy things, but the latter work seemed to me extremely amusing; it is the last word in the involuntary grotesque. In other respects, dead calm, France is sinking gently like a rotten hulk, and the hope of salvage, even for the staunchest, seems chimerical. You need to be here, in Paris, to have an idea of the universal depression, of the stupidity, of the decrepitude in which we are floundering.

The sentiment of that agony penetrates me and I am sad enough to die. When I am not torturing myself about my work, I am groaning about myself. That is the truth. In my leisure moments, all I do is to think of the dead, and I am going to say a very pretentious thing to you. No one understands me; I belong to another world. The men of my profession are so little of my profession! There is hardly anyone except Victor Hugo with whom I can talk of what interests me. Day before yesterday he recited by heart to me from Boileau and from Tacitus. That was like a gift to me, the thing is so rare. Moreover, the days when there are not politicians at his house, he is an adorable man.

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