The George Sand-Gustave Flaubert Letters

XLII. To Gustave Flaubert, at Croissset Paris, 9 January, 1867

Dear comrade,

Your old troubadour has been tempted to bite the dust. He is still in Paris. He should have left the 25th of December; his trunk was strapped; your first letter was awaiting him every day at Nohant. At last he is all ready to leave and he goes tomorrow with his son Alexandre [Footnote: Alexandre Dumas fils.] who is anxious to accompany him.

It is stupid to be laid on one’s back and to lose consciousness for three days and to get up as enfeebled as if one had done something painful and useful. It was nothing after all, except temporary impossibility of digesting anything whatever. Cold, or weakness, or work, I don’t know. I don’t think of it any longer. Sainte-Beuve is much more disquieting, somebody have written you about it. He is better also, but there will be serious trouble, and on account of that, accidents to look out for. I am very saddened and anxious about it.

I have not worked for two weeks; so my task has not progressed very much, and as I don’t know if I am going to be in shape very soon, I have given the Odeon A VACATION. They will take me when I am ready. I think of going a little to the south when I have seen my children. The plants of the coast are running through my head. I am prodigiously uninterested in anything which is not my little ideal of peaceful work, country life, and of tender and pure friendship. I really think that I am not going to live a long time, although I am quite cured and well. I get this warning from the great calm, CONTINUALLY CALMER, which exists in my formerly agitated soul. My brain only works from synthesis to analysis, and formerly it was the contrary. Now, what presents itself to my eyes when I awaken is the planet; I have considerable trouble in finding again there the MOI which interested me formerly, and which I begin to’ call YOU in the plural. It is charming, the planet, very interesting, very curious but rather backward, and as yet somewhat unpractical; I hope to pass into an oasis with better highways and possible to all. One needs so much money and resources in order to travel here! and the time lost in order to procure. these necessaries is lost to study and to contemplation. It seems to me that there is due me something less complicated, less civilized, more naturally luxurious, and more easily good than this feverish halting-place. Will you come into the land, of my dreams, if I succeed in finding the road? Ah! who can know?

And the novel, is it getting on? Your courage has not declined? Solitude does not weigh on you? I really think that it is not absolute, and that somewhere there is a sweetheart who comes and goes, or who lives near there. But there is something of the anchorite in your life just the same, and if envy your situation. As for me, I am too alone at Palaiseau, with a dead soul; not alone enough at Nohant, with the children whom I love too much to belong to myself — and at Paris, one does not know what one is, one forgets oneself entirely for a thousand things which are not worth any more than oneself. I embrace you with all my heart, dear friend; remember me to your mother, to your dear family, and write me at Nohant, that will do me good.

The cheeses? I don’t know at all, it seems to me that they spoke to me of them, but I don’t remember at all. I will tell you that from down there.

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