The George Sand-Gustave Flaubert Letters

XCIII. To George Sand Saturday evening

I received your two notes, dear master. You send me “halcyon” to replace the word, “dragonfly.” Georges Pouchet suggested gerre of the lakes (genus, Gerris). Well! neither the one nor the other suits me, because they do not immediately make a picture for the ignorant reader.

Must I then describe that little creature? But that would retard the movement! That would fill up all the landscape I shall put “insects with large feet” or “long insects.” That would be clear and short.

Few books have gripped me more than Cadio, and I share entirely Maxime’s [Footnote: Maxime Du Camp.] admiration.

I should have told you of it sooner if my mother and my niece had not taken my copy. At last, this evening, they gave it back to me; it is here on my table, and I am turning the pages as I write you.

In the first place, it seems to me as if IT OUGHT TO HAVE BEEN THE WAY IT IS! It is plain, it gets you and thrills you. How many people must be like Saint-Gueltas, like Count de Sauvieres, like Rebec! and even like Henri, although the models are rarer. As for the character of Cadio, which is more of an invention than the others, what I like best in him is his ferocious anger. In it is the special truth of the character. Humanity turned to fury, the guillotine become mystic, life only a sort of bloody dream, that is what must take place in such heads. I think you have one Shakespearean scene: that of the delegate to the Convention with his two secretaries, is of an incredible strength. It makes one cry out! There is one also which struck me very much at the first reading: the scene where Saint-Gueltas and Henri each have the pistols in their pockets: and many others. What a fine page (I open by chance) is page 161!

In the play won’t you have to give a longer role to the wife of the good Saint-Gueltas? The play ought not to be very hard to cut. It is only a question of condensing and shortening it. If it is played, I’ll guarantee a terrific success. But the censorship?

Well, you have written a masterpiece, that’s true! and a very amusing one. My mother thinks it recalls to her stories that she heard while a child. A propos of Vendee, did you know that her paternal grandfather was, after M. Lescure, the head of the Vendee army? The aforesaid head was named M. Fleuriot d’Argentan. I am not any the prouder for that; besides the thing is doubtful, for my grandfather, a violent republican, hid his political antecedents.

My mother is going in a few days to Dieppe, to her grandchild’s. I shall be alone a good part of the summer, and I plan to grub.

“I labor much and shun the world. It is not at balls that the future is founded.” (Camilla Doucet.)

But my everlasting novel bores me sometimes in an incredible manner! These tiny details are stupid to bother with! Why annoy oneself about such a miserable subject?

I would write you at length about Cadio; but it is late and my eyes are smarting.

So, thank you, very kindly, my dear master.

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