Là-bas eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 265 pages of information about L-bas.

On the other hand, if his conjectures were false, if it was not Mme. Chantelouve who had written the letters, then the other, the unknown, lost a little of her subtlety by the mere fact that she could be incarnated in a creature whom he knew.  Still remote, she became less so; then her beauty deteriorated, because, in turn, she took on certain features of Mme. Chantelouve, and if the latter had profited, the former, on the contrary, lost by the confusion which Durtal had established.

In one as in the other case, whether she were Mme. Chantelouve or not, he felt appeased, calmed.  At heart he did not know, when he revolved the adventure, whether he preferred his chimera, even diminished, or this Hyacinthe, who at least, in her reality, was not a disenchanting frump, wrinkled with age.  He profited by the respite to get back to work, but he had presumed too much upon his powers.  When he tried to begin his chapter on the crimes of Gilles de Rais he discovered that he was incapable of sewing two sentences together.  He wandered in pursuit of the Marshal and caught up with him, but the prose in which he wished to embody the man remained listless and lifeless, and he could think only patchily.

He threw down his pen and sank into an armchair.  In revery he was transported to Tiffauges, where Satan, who had refused so obstinately to show himself, now became incarnate in the unwitting Marshal, to wallow him, vociferating, in the joys of murder.

“For this, basically, is what Satanism is,” said Durtal to himself.  “The external semblance of the Demon is a minor matter.  He has no need of exhibiting himself in human or bestial form to attest his presence.  For him to prove himself, it is enough that he choose a domicile in souls which he ulcerates and incites to inexplicable crimes.  Then, he can hold his victims by that hope which he breathes into them, that instead of living in them as he does, and as they don’t often know, he will obey evocations, appear to them, and deal out, duly, legally, the advantages he concedes in exchange for certain forfeits.  Our very willingness to make a pact with him must be able often to produce his infusion into us.

“All the modern theories of the followers of Maudsley and Lombroso do not, in fact, render the singular abuses of the Marshal comprehensible.  Nothing could be more just than to class him as a monomaniac, for he was one, if by the word monomaniac we designate every man who is dominated by a fixed idea.  But so is every one of us, more or less, from the business man, all whose thoughts converge on the one idea of gain, to the artist absorbed in bringing his masterpiece into the world.  But why was the Marshal a monomaniac, how did he become one?  That is what all the Lombrosos in the world can’t tell you.  Encephalic lesions, adherence of the pia mater to the cerebrum, mean absolutely nothing in this question.  For they are simple resultants, effects derived from

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Là-bas from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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