Title: My Memoirs, Vol. VI, 1832-1833
Author: Alexandre Dumas
Translator: E. M. Waller
Release Date: February 2, 2016 [EBook #51105]
Produced by Laura NR and Marc D’Hooghe at http://www.freeliterature.org (Images generously made
available by the Hathi Trust.)
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.
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The original files are provided by InternetArchive.
Tony did as I did; he first of all worked at the rate of six hours a day, then eight, then ten, then twelve, then fifteen: work is like the intoxication of hashish and of opium: it creates a fictitious life inside real life, so full of delicious dreams and adorable hallucinations that one ends by preferring the fictitious life to the real one.
“The history of the July Revolution lay entirely in those words: ‘Nobility is loyalty’s true buckler; so long as she has worn it on her arm, she has driven back foreign warfare and smothered civil war; but, from the day when, in anger, she imprudently breaks it, she is defenceless. Louis XI. had slain the great vassals; Louis XIII. the grand seigneurs and Louis XIV. the aristocrats, so that, when Charles X. called to his aid the d’Armagnacs, the Montmorencys and the Lauzuns, his voice only called up shades and phantoms.’
Towards the end of September, we heard in France of the death of Walter Scott. That death made a certain impression on me; not that I had the honour of knowing the author of Ivanhoe and of Waverley, but the reading of Walter Scott, it will be recollected, had a great influence on my early literary life.
The analysis of Walter Scott had made me understand the novel from another point of view than that of our country. A similar fidelity to manners, costumes and characters, with more lively dialogue and more natural passions, seemed to me to be what we needed. Such was my conviction, but I was far enough yet from suspecting that I should attempt to do for France what Scott had done for Scotland.
“Do not be discouraged, my child. You cannot write an article in ten lines; but, some day, you will write novels in ten volumes. Try, first of all, to rid your mind of imitations; all beginners start by copying others. Don’t be anxious, you will gradually find your own feet, and be the first to forget how it all came to you.”
And, as a matter of fact, during six weeks of the spring of 1832, which she spent in the country, George Sand wrote a novel in two volumes. That novel was Indiana. She returned from the country, went to see Latouche and confessed, trembling, the fresh crime she had just committed.
“Walter Scott has depicted localities, characters, manners; you must take the novel from Walter Scott’s hands, as Raphael took art from Perugino’s, and add the passions.”
Oh, gentlemen! you who are engaged in matters of French dramatic art, ponder this seriously. France, with its powers of assimilation, ought not to restrict itself to National Art. She ought to seize upon European Art -cosmopolitan, universal art—bounded in the North by Shakespeare, in the East by Æschylus, in the South by Calderon and in the West by Corneille. It was thus that Augustus, Charlemagne and Napoleon conceived their Empires.