The George Sand-Gustave Flaubert Letters

CCLXXX. To Gustave Flaubert Nohant, 6th July, 1874 (Yesterday, seventy years.)

I was in Paris from the 30th of May to the 10th of June, you were not there. Since my return here, I have been ill with the grippe, rheumatic, and often absolutely deprived of the use of my right arm. I have not the courage to stay in bed: I spend the evening with my children and I forget my little miseries which will pass; everything passes. That is why I was not able to write to you, even to thank you for the good letter which you wrote to me about my novel. In Paris I was overwhelmed by fatigue. That is the way I am growing old, and now I am beginning to feel it; I am not more often ill, now, illness PROSTRATES me more. That is nothing, I have not the right to complain, being well loved and well cared for in my nest. I urge Maurice to go about without me, since my strength is not equal to going with him. He leaves tomorrow for Cantal with a servant, a tent, a lamp, and a quantity of utensils to examine the MICROS of his entomological DIVISION I am telling him that you are bored on the Righi. He cannot understand it.

The 7th

I am taking up my letter again, begun yesterday; I still find it very hard to move my pen, and even at this moment, I have a pain in my side, and I cannot . . .

Till tomorrow.

The 8th

At last, I shall be able perhaps today: for I am furious to think that perhaps you are accusing me of forgetting you, when I am prevented by weakness that is entirely physical, in which my affections count for nothing. You tell me that they KNOCK you too much. I read only le Temps and it is a good deal for me even to open a paper to see about what it is talking. You ought to do as I do and IGNORE criticism when it is not serious, and even when it is. I have never been able to see what good it is to the author criticised. Criticism always starts from a personal point of view, the authority of which the artist does not recognize. It is because of that usurpation of powers in the intellectual order of things, that people get to discussing the Sun and the Moon; but that does not prevent them in the least from showing us their good tranquil faces.

You do not want to be a man of nature, so much the worse for you! therefore you attach too much importance to the details of human things, and you do not tell yourself that there is in you a NATURAL force that defies the IFS and the BUTS of human prattle. We are of nature, in nature, by nature, and for nature. Talent, will, genius, are natural phenomena like the lake, the volcano, the mountain, the wind, the star, the cloud. What man dabbles in is pretty or ugly, ingenious or stupid; what he gets from nature is good or bad; but it is, it exists and subsists. One should not ask from the jumble of appreciation called CRITICISM, what one has done and what one wants to do. Criticism does not know anything about it; its business is to gossip.

Nature alone knows how to speak to the intelligence in a language that is imperishable, always the same, because it does not depart from the eternally true, the absolutely beautiful. The hard thing, when one travels, is to find nature, because man has arranged it everywhere and has almost spoiled it everywhere; probably it is because of that that you are bored, it is because it is disguised and travestied everywhere. However, the glaciers are still intact, I presume.

But I cannot write further, I must tell you quickly that I love you, that I embrace you affectionately. Give me news of yourself. I hope to be on my feet in a few days. Maurice is waiting until I am robust before he goes: I am hurrying as much as I can! My little girls embrace you, they are superb. Aurore is devoted to mythology (George Cox, Baudry translation). You know that? An adorable work for children and parents. Enough, I can no more. I love you; don’t have black ideas, and resign yourself to being bored if the air is good there.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:54