As to whether the “claustration” to which I condemn myself may be a “state of joy,” no. But what can I do? To get drunk with ink is more worth while than to get drunk with brandy. The muse, cross-grained as she is, gives less trouble than a woman. I cannot harmonize the one with the other. I must choose. My choice was made a long time ago. There remains the matter of the senses. They have always been my servants. Even at the time of my earliest youth, I did exactly as I wanted with them. I have reached my fiftieth year, and it is not their ardor that troubles me.
This regime is not amusing, I agree to that. There are moments of empty and horrible boredom. But they become more and more rare in proportion as one grows older. In short, living seems to me a business for which I was not made, and yet...!
I stayed in Paris for three days, which I made use of in hunting up information, and in doing errands about my book. I was so worn out last Friday, that I went to bed at seven o’clock in the evening. Such are my mad orgies at the capital.
I found the Goncourts in a frenzied (sic) admiration over a book entitled Histoire de ma vie by George Sand. Which proves more good taste than learning on their part. They even wanted to write to you to express all their admiration. (In return I found ***** stupid. He compares Feydeau to Chateaubriand, admires very much the Lepreux de la cite d’Aoste, finds Don Quichotte tedious, etc.).
Do you notice how rare literary sense is? The knowledge of language, archeology, history, etc., all that should be useful however! Well! well! not at all! The so-called enlightened people are becoming more and more incompetent in the matter of art. Even what art means escapes them. The glosses for them are more important than the text. They pay more attention to the crutches than to the legs themselves.
It is one o’clock, I have just embraced my children. I am tired from having spent the night in making a complete costume for a large doll for Aurore; but I don’t want to turn in without embracing you also, my great friend, and my dear, big child. May ’69 be easy for you, and may it see the end of your novel. May you keep well and be always yourself! I don’t know anything better, and I love you.
I have not the address of the Goncourts. Will you put the enclosed answer in the mail?