Elsie Lindtner’s journal shows us many examples of these circling flights and retrogressions. Sometimes too we observe a gap, an empty space, in which words and ideas seem to have failed. Again, there are sudden leaps from one subject to another, the true thought appearing, notwithstanding, beneath the artificial thought which is written down. Sometimes there comes an abrupt and painful pause, as though somebody walking absent-mindedly along the road found themselves brought up by a yawning cleft....
This cinematograph of feminine thought, stubborn yet disconnected, is to my mind the principal literary merit of the book; more so even than its strength and brevity of style.
* * * * *
For all these reasons, it seemed to me that The Dangerous Age was worthy to be presented to the public in a French translation. The Revue de Paris also thought it worthy to be published in its pages. I shall be astonished if French readers do not confirm this twofold judgment, offering to this foreign novel the same favourable reception that has already been accorded to it outside its little native land.
The Dangerous Age
MY DEAR LILLIE,
Obviously it would have been the right thing to give you my news in person—apart from the fact that I should then have enjoyed the amusing spectacle of your horror! But I could not make up my mind to this course.
All the same, upon my word of honour, you, dear innocent soul, are the only person to whom I have made any direct communication on the subject. It is at once your great virtue and defect that you find everything that everybody does quite right and reasonable—you, the wife eternally in love with her husband; eternally watching over your children like a brood-hen.
You are really virtuous, Lillie. But I may add that you have no reason for being anything else. For you, life is like a long and pleasant day spent in a hammock under a shady tree—your husband at the head and your children at the foot of your couch.
You ought to have been a mother stork, dwelling in an old cart-wheel on the roof of some peasant’s cottage.
For you, life is fair and sweet, and all humanity angelic. Your relations with the outer world are calm and equable, without temptation to any passions but such as are perfectly legal. At eighty you will still be the virtuous mate of your husband.
Don’t you see that I envy you? Not on account of your husband—you may keep him and welcome! Not on account of your lanky maypoles of daughters—for I have not the least wish to be five times running a mother-in-law, a fate which will probably overtake you. No! I envy your superb balance and your imperturbable joy in life.
I am out of sorts to-day. We have dined out twice running, and you know I cannot endure too much light and racket.