And as regard this, you send me, in your last letter, a horrid thing. Could I, for my part, suspect you of forgetting Cruchard! Come now, I have, first of all, too much vanity and next, too much faith in you.
You don’t tell me how your play is getting on at the Odeon.
Speaking of plays, I am going again to expose myself to insults of the populace and the penny-a-liners. The manager of the Cluny Theatre, to whom I took le Sexe faible, has written me an admiring letter and is disposed to put on that play in October. He is reckoning on a great money success. Well, so be it! But I am recalling the enthusiasm of Carvalho, followed by an absolute chill! and all that increases my scorn for the so-called shrewd people who pretend to know all about things. For, in short, there is a dramatic work, declared by the managers of the Vaudeville and the Cluny “perfect,” by the Theatre Francais “unplayable,” and by the manager of the Odeon “in need of rewriting from one end to the other.” Draw a conclusion now! and listen to their advice! Never mind, as these four gentlemen are the masters of your destinies because they have the money, and as they have more mind than you, never having written a line, you must believe them and submit to them.
It is a strange thing how much pleasure imbeciles find in floundering about in the work of another! in cutting it, correcting it, playing the pedagogue! Did I tell you that I was, because of that, very much at odds with a certain *****. He wanted to make over, sometime ago, a novel that I had recommended to him, which was not very good, but of which he is incapable of turning the least phrase. And I did not hide from him my opinion about him; inde irae. However, it is impossible for me to be so modest as to think that that good Pole is better than I am in French prose. And you want me to remain calm! dear master! I have not your temperament! I am not like you, always soaring above the miseries of this world. Your Cruchard is as sensitive as if he were divested of skin. And imbecility, self-sufficiency, injustice exasperate him more and more. Thus the ugliness of the Germans who surround me shuts off the view of the Righi!!! Zounds! What mugs!
God be thanked, “of my horrible sight I purge their States.”
Then, after having been bored like an ass on the top of the Righi, I returned home the first of August and started my book. The beginning was not easy, it was even “direful,” and “methought” I should die of despair; but now things are going, I am all right, come what may! But one needs to be absolutely mad to undertake such a book. I fear that, by its very conception, it is radically impossible. We shall see, Ah! supposing I should carry it out well ... what a dream.
You doubtless know that once more I am exposing myself to the storms of the footlights (pretty metaphor) and that “braving the publicity of the theatre” I shall appear upon the boards of Cluny, probably, towards the end of December. The manager of that “little theatre” is enchanted with le Sexe faible. But so was Carvalho, which did not prevent him ... You know the rest.