called Marengo Lirondelle widow Dodin Rue Lanion, 47, Belleville.
Oh! how lovely the letter of Marengo the Swallow is! Seriously, I think it a masterpiece, not a word which is not a word of genius. I have laughed aloud many times. I thank you very dear master, you are as good as can be.
You never tell me what you are doing. How far has the play gone?
I am not at all surprised that you don’t understand my literary agonies. I don’t understand them myself. But they exist nevertheless, and violent ones.
I don’t in the least know how to set to work to write, and I begin by expressing only the hundredth part of my ideas after infinite gropings. Not one who seizes the first impulse, your friend, no! not at all! Thus for entire days I have polished and re-polished a paragraph without accomplishing anything. I feel like weeping at times. You ought to pity me!
As for our subject under discussion (a propos of your young man), what you write me in your last letter is so my way of thinking, that I have not only practised it but preached it. Ask Theo. However, let us understand one another. Artists (who are priests) risk nothing in being chaste; on the contrary. But the bourgeois, what is the use in it for them? Of course there must be certain ones among humanity who stick to chastity. Happy indeed those who don’t depart from it.
I don’t agree with you that there is anything worth while to be done with the character of the ideal artist; he would be a monster. Art is not made to paint the exceptions, and I feel an unconquerable repugnance to putting on paper something from out of my heart. I even think that a novelist hasn’t the right to express his opinion on any subject whatsoever. Has the good God ever uttered it, his opinion? That is why there are not a few things that choke me which I should like to spit out, but which I swallow. Why say them, in fact! The first comer is more interesting than Monsieur Gustave Flaubert, because he is more general and therefore more typical.
Nevertheless, there are days when I consider myself below imbecility. I have still a globe of goldfish and that amuses me. They keep me company while I dine. Is it stupid to be interested in such simple things? Adieu, it is late, I have an aching head.
I embrace you.
“Not put one’s heart into what one writes?” I don’t understand at all, oh! not at all! As for me, I think that one can not put anything else into it. Can one separate one’s mind from one’s heart? Is it something different? Can sensation itself limit itself? Can existence divide itself? In short, not to give oneself entirely to one’s work, seems to me as impossible as to weep with something else than one’s eyes, and to think with something else than one’s brain.