You spoil me! I did not dare to send you the novels, which were wrapped up addressed to you for a week. I was afraid of interrupting your train of thought and of boring you. You stopped everything to read Maurice first, and then me. We should be remorseful if we were not egoists, very happy to have a reader who is worth ten thousand others! That helps a great deal; for Maurice and I work in a desert, never knowing, except from each other, if a thing is a success or a mess, exchanging our criticisms, and never having relations with accredited judges.
Michel never tells us until after a year or two if a book has sold. As for Buloz, if it is with him we have to do, he tells us invariably that the thing is bad or poor. It is only Charles Edmond who encourages us by asking us for copy. We write without consideration for the public; that is perhaps not a bad idea, but we carry it too far. And praise from you gives us the courage which does not depart from us, but which is often a sad courage, while you make it sparkling and gay, and healthful for us to breathe.
I was right then in not throwing Nanon into the fire, as I was ready to do, when Charles Edmond came to tell me that it was very well done, and that he wanted it for his paper. I thank you then, and I send you back your good kisses, for Francia especially, which Buloz only put in with a sour face and for lack of something better: you see that I am not spoiled, but I never get angry at all that and I don’t talk about it. That is how it is, and it is very simple. As soon as literature is a merchandise, the salesman who exploits it, appreciates only the client who buys it, and if the client depreciates the object, the salesman declares to the author that his merchandise is not pleasing. The republic of letters is only a market in which one sells books. Not making concession to the publisher is our only virtue; let us keep that and let us live in peace, even with him when he is peevish, and let us recognize, too, that he is not the guilty one. He would have taste if the public had it.
Now I’ve emptied my bag, and don’t let us talk of it again except to advise about Saint-Antoine, meanwhile telling ourselves that the editors will be brutes. Levy, however, is not, but you are angry with him. I should like to talk of all that with you; will you come? or wait until my trip to Paris? But when shall I go? I don’t know.
I am a little afraid of bronchitis in the winter, and I do not leave home unless I absolutely have to for business reasons.