From the moment they met as young children, Bee and George have been bound together by a deep love. But when George goes off on a quest to a forbidden lake, home to dangerous water nymphs, it is up to Bee to rescue him. On her adventure she meets Loc, the king of the dwarfs, who proves to be more kind and generous than the humans she knows. Even as he showers her with riches in an attempt to make her stay, Bee never loses sight of her purpose: finding George. She will do anything to get him back.
A fairy tale for all ages, Bee: The Princess of the Dwarfs is a classic that has delighted children and adults alike for more than a century with its ebullient characters and wondrous worlds.
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* Beautifully illustrated with images relating to France’s life and works
* Concise introductions to the novels and other texts
* ALL 16 novels, with individual contents tables
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* All the novels, including all four volumes of A CHRONICLE OF OUR OWN TIMES, available in no other collection
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* Includes France’s seminal historical study of Joan of Arc
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* Scholarly ordering of texts into chronological order and literary genres
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THE CRIME OF SYLVESTRE BONNARD
THE ASPIRATIONS OF JEAN SERVIEN
AT THE SIGN OF THE REINE PÉDAUQUE
THE OPINIONS OF JEROME COIGNARD
THE RED LILY
A CHRONICLE OF OUR OWN TIMES I: THE ELM-TREE ON THE MALL
A CHRONICLE OF OUR OWN TIMES II: THE WICKER-WORK WOMAN
A CHRONICLE OF OUR OWN TIMES III: THE AMETHYST RING
A CHRONICLE OF OUR OWN TIMES IV: MONSIEUR BERGERET IN PARIS
A MUMMER’S TALE
THE WHITE STONE
THE GODS ARE ATHIRST
THE REVOLT OF THE ANGELS
The Shorter Fiction
JOCASTA AND THE FAMISHED CAT
BALTHASAR AND OTHER WORKS
MOTHER OF PEARL
THE WELL OF SAINT CLARE
CRAINQUEBILLE, PUTOIS, RIQUET AND OTHER PROFITABLE TALES
THE MERRIE TALES OF JACQUES TOURNEBROCHE
THE SEVEN WIVES OF BLUEBEARD AND OTHER MARVELLOUS TALES
CHILD LIFE IN TOWN AND COUNTRY
The Short Stories
LIST OF SHORT STORIES IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER
LIST OF SHORT STORIES IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER
THE COMEDY OF A MAN WHO MARRIED A DUMB WIFE
COME WHAT MAY
LIST OF POETICAL WORKS
THE LIFE OF JOAN OF ARC
ANATOLE FRANCE — 1904 by Joseph Conrad
ANATOLE FRANCE by Arnold Bennett
HOMAGE TO ANATOLE FRANCE by John Galsworthy
ANATOLE FRANCE by John Cowper Powys
ANATOLE FRANCE by Robert Lynd
THE WISDOM OF ANATOLE FRANCE by John Middleton Murry
ANATOLE FRANCE by George Brandes
ANATOLE FRANCE by Winifred Stephens
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This 1914 novel by Nobel laureate Anatole France offers a brilliant satire of war, government, and religion. Published on the eve of World War I, the fable voices an ever-resonant protest against violence and despotism. The author's sense of humor brings a remarkably contemporary air to the Paradise Lost scenario, and stunning black-and-white illustrations by Frank C. Papé complement the tale's fantasy elements.
An hypothesis no better founded is that which Consists in identifying Bluebeard with the Marshal de Rais, who was strangled by the arm of the Law above the bridges of Nantes on 26th of October, 1440. Without inquiring, with M. Salomon Reinach, whether the Marshal committed the crimes for which he was condemned, or whether his wealth, coveted by a greedy prince, did not in some degree contribute to his undoing, there is nothing in his life that resembles what we find in Bluebeard's; this alone is enough to prevent our confusing them or merging the two individuals into one.
Charles Perrault, who, about 1660, had the merit of composing the first biography of this seigneur, justly remarkable for having married seven wives, made him an accomplished villain, and the most perfect model of cruelty that ever trod the earth. But it is permissible to doubt, if not his sincerity, at least the correctness of his information. He may, perhaps, have been prejudiced against his hero. He would not have been the first example of a poet or historian who liked to darken the colours of his pictures. If we have what seems a flattering portrait of Titus, it would seem, on the other hand, that Tacitus has painted Tiberius much blacker than the reality. Macbeth, whom legend and Shakespeare accuse of crimes, was in reality a just and a wise king. He never treacherously murdered the old king, Duncan. Duncan, while yet young, was defeated in a great battle, and was found dead on the morrow at a spot called the Armourer's Shop. He had slain several of the kinsfolk of Gruchno, the wife of Macbeth. The latter made Scotland prosperous; he encouraged trade, and was regarded as the defender of the middle classes, the true King of the townsmen. The nobles of the clans never forgave him for defeating Duncan, nor for protecting the artisans. They destroyed him, and dishonoured his memory. Once he was dead the good King Macbeth was known only by the statements of his enemies. The genius of Shakespeare imposed these lies upon the human consciousness. I had long suspected that Bluebeard was the victim of a similar fatality. All the circumstances of his life, as I found them related, were far from satisfying my mind, and from gratifying that craving for logic and lucidity by which I am incessantly consumed. On reflection, I perceived that they involved insurmountable difficulties. There was so great a desire to make me believe in the man's cruelty that it could not fail to make me doubt it.
M. Bergeret was preparing his lesson on the eighth book of the ®neid, and he ought to have been devoting himself exclusively to the fascinating details of metre and language. In this task he would have found, if not joy, at any rate mental peace and the priceless balm of spiritual tranquillity. Instead, he had turned his thoughts in another direction: he was musing on the soul, the genius, the outward features of that classic world whose books he spent his life in studying. He had given himself up to the longing to behold with his own eyes those golden shores, that azure sea, those rose-hued mountains, those lovely meadows through which the poet leads his heroes. He was bemoaning himself bitterly that it had never been his lot to visit the shores where once Troy stood, to gaze on the landscape of Virgil, to breathe the air of Italy, of Greece and holy Asia, as Gaston Boissier and Gaston Deschamps had done. The melancholy aspect of his study overwhelmed him and great waves of misery submerged his mind. His sadness was, of course, the fruit of his own folly, for all our real sorrows come from within and are self-caused. We mistakenly believe that they come from outside, but we create them within ourselves from our own personality.
It was here in the nave that twice a week, from five in the evening to eleven, were held the public assemblies. The pulpit, decorated with the colours of the Nation, served as tribune for the speakers who harangued the meeting. Opposite, on the Epistle side, rose a platform of rough planks, for the accommodation of the women and children, who attended these gatherings in considerable numbers.
On this particular morning, facing a desk planted underneath the pulpit, sat in red cap and carmagnole complete the joiner from the Place Thionville, the citoyen Dupont senior, one of the twelve forming the Committee of Surveillance. On the desk stood a bottle and glasses, an ink-horn, and a folio containing the text of the petition urging the Convention to expel from its bosom the twenty-two members deemed unworthy.
ƒvariste Gamelin took the pen and signed.
"I was sure," said the carpenter and magistrate, "I was sure you would come and give in your name, citoyen Gamelin. You are the real thing. But the Section is lukewarm; it is lacking in virtue. I have proposed to the Committee of Surveillance to deliver no certificate of citizenship to any one who has failed to sign the petition."
But Riquet had always refused. The majesty of the place over-awed him; and perhaps in his former condition he had received a lesson that taught him to respect the masterÕs food.
One day Monsieur Bergeret had been more pressing than usual. For a long while he had held a delicious piece of meat under his friendÕs nose. Riquet had averted his head, and, emerging from beneath the table-cloth, had gazed at his master with his beautiful, humble eyes, full of gentleness and reproach; eyes that said: ÒMaster, wherefore dost thou tempt me?Ó
And with drooping tail and crouching legs he had dragged himself upon his belly as a sign of humility, and had gone dejectedly to the door, where he sat upon his haunches. He had remained there throughout the meal. And Monsieur Bergeret had marvelled at the saintly patience of his little black friend.
He knew, then, what RiquetÕs feelings were, and that is why he did not insist on this occasion. Moreover, he knew that Riquet, after the dinner at which he was a reverential spectator, would presently go to the kitchen and greedily devour his own mess under the kitchen sink, snuffling and blowing, entirely at his ease. His mind at rest on this point, he resumed the thread of his thoughts.
ÒThe heroes,Ó he reflected, Òused to make a great business of eating and drinking. Homer does not forget to tell us that in the palace of the fair-haired Menelaus, Eteonteus, the son of Boethus, was wont to carve the meats and distribute the portions. A king was worthy of praise when, at his table, every man received his due portion of the roasted ox. Menelaus knew the customs of his times. With the aid of her servants the white-armed Helen saw to the cooking and the great Eteonteus carved the meats. The pride of so noble a function still shines upon the smooth faces of our butlers and ma”tres dÕh™tel. We are deep-rooted in the past. But I am not a hungry man: I am only a small eater, and AngŽlique Borniche, primitive woman that she is, makes that too a grievance against me. She would think far more of me had I the appetite of a son of Atreus or a Bourbon.Ó
Jean Servien was born in a back-shop in the Rue Notre-Dame des Champs. His father was a bookbinder and worked for the Religious Houses. Jean was a little weakling child, and his mother nursed him at her breast as she sewed the books, sheet by sheet, with the curved needle of the trade. One day as she was crossing the shop, humming a song, in the words of which she found expression for the vague, splendid visions of her maternal ambition, her foot slipped on the boards, which were moist with paste.
Instinctively she threw up her arm to guard the child she held clasped to her bosom, and struck her breast, thus exposed, a severe blow against the corner of the iron press. She felt no very acute pain at the time, but later on an abscess formed, which got well, but presently reopened, and a low fever supervened that confined her to her bed.
There, in the long, long evenings, she would fold her little one in her one sound arm and croon over him in a hot, feverish whisper bits of her favourite ditty:
The fisherman, when dawn is nigh,
Peers forth to greet the kindling sky….
Above all, she loved the refrain that recurred at the end of each verse with only the change of a word. It was her little Jean's lullaby, who became, at the caprice of the words, turn and turn about, General, Lawyer, and ministrant at the altar in her fond hopes.
Monsieur Bergeret was seated at table taking his frugal evening meal. Riquet lay at his feet on a tapestry cushion. Riquet had a religious soul; he rendered divine honours to mankind. He regarded his master as very good and very great. But it was chiefly when he saw him at table that he realized the sovereign greatness and goodness of Monsieur Bergeret.
If, to Riquet, all things pertaining to food were precious and impressive, those pertaining to the food of man were sacred. He venerated the dining-room as a temple, the table as an altar. During meals he kept his place at his master’s feet, in silence and immobility.
“It’s a spring chicken,” said old Angélique as she placed the dish upon the table.
“Good. Be kind enough to carve it, then,” said Monsieur Bergeret, who was a poor hand with weapons and quite hopeless as a carver.
“Willingly,” said Angélique, “but carving isn’t woman’s work, it’s the gentlemen who ought to carve poultry.”
“I don’t know how to carve.”
“Monsieur ought to know.”
This dialogue was by no means new. Angélique and her master exchanged similar remarks every time that game or poultry came to the table. It was not flippantly, it was certainly not to save herself trouble, that the old servant persisted in offering her master the carving-knife as a token of the respect which was due to him. In the peasant class from which she had sprung and also in the little middle-class households where she had been in service, it was a tradition that it was the master’s duty to carve. The faithful old soul’s respect for tradition was profound. She did not think it right that Monsieur Bergeret should fall short of it, that he should delegate to her the performance of so authoritative a function, that he should fail to carve at his own table, since he was not grand enough to employ a butler to do it for him, like the Brécés, the Bonmonts and other such folk in town or country. She knew the obligations which honour imposes on a citizen who dines at home, and she never failed to impress them upon Monsieur Bergeret.
True to her word, Madame Bergeret quitted the conjugal roof and betook herself to the house of her mother, the widow Pouilly.
As the time for her departure drew near, she had half a mind not to go, and with a little coaxing would have consented to forget the past and resume the old life with her husband, at the same time vaguely despising M. Bergeret as the injured party.
She was quite ready to forgive and forget, but the unbending esteem in which she was held by the circle in which she moved did not allow of such a course. Madame Dellion had made it clear to her that any such weakness on her part would be judged unfavourably; all the drawing-rooms in the place were unanimous upon that score. There was but one opinion among the tradespeople: Madame Bergeret must return to her mother. In this way did they uphold the proprieties and, at the same time, rid themselves of a thoughtless, common, compromising person, whose vulgarity was apparent even to the vulgar, and who was a burden on everybody about her. They made her believe there was something heroic in her conduct.
“I have the greatest admiration for you, my child,” said old Madame Dutilleul from the depths of her easy chair, she who had survived four husbands, and was a truly terrible woman. People suspected her of everything, except of ever having loved, and in her old age she was honoured and respected by all.
Madame Bergeret was delighted at having inspired sympathy in Madame Dellion and admiration in Madame Dutilleul, and still she could not finally make up her mind to go, for she was of a homely disposition and accustomed to regular habits and quite content to live on in idleness and deceit. Having grasped this fact, M. Bergeret redoubled his efforts to ensure his deliverance. He stoutly upheld Marie, the servant, who kept every one in the house in a state of wretchedness and trepidation, was suspected of harbouring thieves and cut-throats in her kitchen, and only brought herself into prominence by the catastrophes she caused....
In his study M. Bergeret, professor of literature at the University, was preparing his lesson on the eighth book of the Æneid to the shrill mechanical accompaniment of the piano, on which, close by, his daughters were practising a difficult exercise. M. Bergeret’s room possessed only one window, but this was a large one, and filled up one whole side. It admitted, however, more draught than light, for the sashes were ill-fitting and the panes darkened by a high contiguous wall. M. Bergeret’s table, pushed close against this window, caught the dismal rays of niggard daylight that filtered through. As a matter of fact this study, where the professor polished and repolished his fine, scholarly phrases, was nothing more than a shapeless cranny, or rather a double recess, behind the framework of the main staircase which, spreading out most inconsiderately in a great curve towards the window, left only room on either side for two useless, churlish corners. Trammelled by this monstrous, green-papered paunch of masonry, M. Bergeret had with difficulty discovered in his cantankerous study—a geometrical abortion as well as an æsthetic abomination—a scanty flat surface where he could stack his books along the deal shelves, upon which yellow rows of Teubner classics were plunged in never-lifted gloom. M. Bergeret himself used to sit squeezed close up against the window, writing in a cold, chilly style that owed much to the bleakness of the atmosphere in which he worked. Whenever he found his papers neither torn nor topsy-turvy and his pens not gaping cross-nibbed, he considered himself a lucky man! For such was the usual result of a visit to the study from Madame Bergeret or her daughters, where they came to write up the laundry list or the household accounts. Here, too, stood the dressmaker’s dummy, on which Madame Bergeret used to drape the skirts she cut out at home. There, bolt upright, over against the learned editions of Catullus and Petronius, stood, like a symbol of the wedded state, this wicker-work woman.
THE BARD OF KYME
Along the hill-side he came, following a path which skirted the sea. His forehead was bare, deeply furrowed and bound by a fillet of red wool. The sea-breeze blew his white locks over his temples and pressed the fleece of a snow-white beard against his chin. His tunic and his feet were the colour of the roads which he had trodden for so many years. A roughly made lyre hung at his side. He was known as the Aged One, and also as the Bard. Yet another name was given him by the children to whom he taught poetry and music, and many called him the Blind One, because his eyes, dim with age, were overhung by swollen lids, reddened by the smoke of the hearths beside which he was wont to sit when he sang. But his was no eternal night, and he was said to see things invisible to other men. For three generations he had been wandering ceaselessly to and fro. And now, having sung all day to a King of Ægea, he was returning to his home, the roof of which he could already see smoking in the distance; for now, after walking all night without a halt for fear of being overtaken by the heat of the day, in the clear light of the dawn he could see the white Kyme, his birthplace. With his dog at his side, leaning on his crooked staff, he walked with slow steps, his body upright, his head held high because of the steepness of the way leading down into the narrow valley and because he was still vigorous in his age. The sun, rising over the mountains of Asia, shed a rosy light over the fleecy clouds and the hill-sides of the islands that studded the sea. The coast-line glistened. But the hills that stretched away eastward, crowned with mastic and terebinth, lay still in the freshness and the shadow of night.
The Aged One measured along the incline the length of twelve times twelve lances and found, on the left, between the flanks of twin rocks, the narrow entrance to a sacred wood. There, on the brink of a spring, rose an altar of unhewn stones....
A few Frenchmen, united in friendship, who were spending the spring in Rome, were wont to meet amid the ruins of the disinterred Forum. They were Joséphin Leclerc, an Embassy Attaché on leave; M. Goubin, licencié ès lettres, an annotator; Nicole Langelier, of the old Parisian family of the Langeliers, printers and classical scholars; Jean Boilly, a civil engineer, and Hippolyte Dufresne, a man of leisure, and a lover of the fine arts.
Towards five o’clock of the afternoon of the first day of May, they wended their way, as was their custom, through the northern door, closed to the public, where Commendatore Boni, who superintended the excavations, welcomed them with quiet amenity, and led them to the threshold of his house of wood nestling in the shadow of laurel bushes, privet hedges and cytisus, and rising above the vast trench, dug down to the depth of the ancient Forum, in the cattle market of pontifical Rome.
Here, they pause awhile, and look about them.
Facing them rise the truncated shafts of the Columnæ Honorariæ, and where stood the Basilica of Julia, the eye rested on what bore the semblance of a huge draughts-board and its draughts. Further south, the three columns of the Temple of the Dioscuri cleave the azure of the skies with their blue-tinted volutes. On their right, surmounting the dilapidated Arch of Septimus Severus, the tall columns of the Temple of Saturn, the dwellings of Christian Rome, and the Women’s Hospital display in tiers, their facings yellower and muddier than the waters of the Tiber. To their left stands the Palatine flanked by huge red arches and crowned with evergreen oaks. At their feet, from hill to hill, among the flagstones of the Via Sacra, narrow as a village street, spring from the earth an agglomeration of brick walls and marble foundations, the remains of buildings which dotted the Forum in the days of Rome’s strength. Trefoil, oats, and the grasses of the field which the wind has sown on their lowered tops, have covered them with a rustic roof illumined by the crimson poppies. A mass of débris, of crumbling entablatures, a multitude of pillars and altars, an entanglement of steps and enclosing walls: all this indeed not stunted but of a serried vastness and within limits.
What one first notes about The Queen Pedauque is the fact that in this ironic and subtle book is presented a story which, curiously enough, is remarkable for its entire innocence of subtlety and irony. Abridge the "plot" into a synopsis, and you will find your digest to be what is manifestly the outline of a straightforward, plumed romance by the elder Dumas.
Indeed, Dumas would have handled the "strange surprising adventures" of Jacques Tournebroche to a nicety, if only Dumas had ever thought to have his collaborators write this brisk tale, wherein d'Astarac and Tournebroche and Mosaide display, even now, a noticeable something in common with the Balsamo and Gilbert and Althotas of the Memoires d'un Medecin. One foresees, to be sure, that, with the twin-girthed Creole for guide, M. Jerome Coignard would have waddled into immortality not quite as we know him, but with somewhat more of a fraternal resemblance to the Dom Gorenflot of La Dame de Monsoreau; and that the blood of the abbe's death-wound could never have bedewed the book's final pages, in the teeth of Dumas' economic unwillingness ever to despatch any character who was "good for" a sequel.
And one thinks rather kindlily of The Queen Pedauque as Dumas would have equipped it... Yes, in reading here, it is the most facile and least avoidable of mental exercises to prefigure how excellently Dumas would have contrived this book,—somewhat as in the reading of Mr. Joseph Conrad's novels a many of us are haunted by the sense that the Conrad "story" is, in its essential beams and stanchions, the sort of thing which W. Clark Russell used to put together, in a rather different way, for our illicit perusal. Whereby I only mean that such seafaring was illicit in those aureate days when, Cleveland being consul for the second time, your geography figured as the screen of fictive reading-matter during school-hours.
One need not say that there is no question, in either case, of "imitation," far less of "plagiarism"; nor need one, surely, point out the impossibility of anybody's ever mistaking the present book for a novel by Alexandre Dumas. Ere Homer's eyesight began not to be what it had been, the fact was noted by the observant Chian, that very few sane architects commence an edifice by planting and rearing the oaks which are to compose its beams and stanchions. You take over all such supplies ready hewn, and choose by preference time-seasoned timber. Since Homer's prime a host of other great creative writers have recognised this axiom when they too began to build: and "originality" has by ordinary been, like chess and democracy, a Mecca for little minds.
This valley, two or three miles broad, stretches unbroken between low hills, softly undulating, crowned with oaks, maples, and birches. Although strewn with wild-flowers in the spring, it looks severe, grave, and sometimes even sad. The green grass imparts to it a monotony like that of stagnant water. Even on fine days one is conscious of a hard, cold climate. The sky seems more genial than the earth. It beams upon it with a tearful smile; it constitutes all the movement, the grace, the exquisite charm of this delicate tranquil landscape. Then when winter comes the sky merges with the earth in a kind of chaos. Fogs come down thick and clinging. The white light mists, which in summer veil the bottom of the valley, give place to thick clouds and dark moving mountains, but slowly scattered by a red, cold sun. Wanderers ranging the uplands in the early morning might dream with the mystics in their ecstasy that they are walking on clouds.
Thus, after having passed on the left the wooded plateau, from the height of which the ch‰teau of BourlŽmont dominates the valley of the Saonelle, and on the right Coussey with its old church, the winding river flows between le Bois Chesnu on the west and the hill of Julien on the east. Then on it goes, passing the adjacent villages of Domremy and Greux on the west bank and separating Greux from Maxey-sur-Meuse. Among other hamlets nestling in the hollows of the hills or rising on the high ground, it passes Burey-la-C™te, Maxey-sur-Vaise, and Burey-en-Vaux, and flows on to water the beautiful meadows of Vaucouleurs.
In this little village of Domremy, situated at least seven and a half miles further down the river than Neufch‰teau and twelve and a half above Vaucouleurs, there was born, about the year 1410 or 1412, a girl who was destined to live a remarkable life. She was born poor. Her father, Jacques or Jacquot d'Arc, a native of the village of Ceffonds in Champagne, was a small farmer and himself drove his horses at the plough. His neighbours, men and women alike, held him to be a good Christian and an industrious workman. His wife came from Vouthon, a village nearly four miles northwest of Domremy, beyond the woods of Greux. Her name being Isabelle or Zabillet, she received at some time, exactly when is uncertain, the surname of RomŽe. That name was given to those who had been to Rome or on some other important pilgrimage; and it is possible that Isabelle may have acquired her name of RomŽe by assuming the pilgrim's shell and staff. One of her brothers was a parish priest, another a tiler; she had a nephew who was a carpenter. She had already borne her husband three children: Jacques or Jacquemin, Catherine, and Jean.
The Aged One measured along the incline the length of twelve times twelve lances and found, on the left, between the flanks of twin rocks, the narrow entrance to a sacred wood. There, on the brink of a spring, rose an altar of unhewn stones.
It was half hidden by an oleander the branches of which were laden with dazzling blossoms. The well-trodden ground in front of the altar was white with the bones of victims. All around, the boughs of the olive-trees were hung with offerings. And farther on, in the awesome shadow of the gorge, rose two ancient oaks, bearing, nailed to their trunks, the bleached skulls of bulls. Knowing that this altar was consecrated to Phœbus, the Aged One plunged into the wood, and, taking by its handle a little earthenware cup which hung from his belt, he bent over the stream which, flowing over a bed of wild parsley and water-cress, slowly wound its way down to the meadow. He filled his cup with the spring-water, and, because he was pious, before drinking he poured a few drops before the altar. He worshipped the immortal gods, who know neither pain nor death, while on earth generation follows generation of suffering men. He was conscious of fear; and he dreaded the arrows of Leto's sons. Full of sorrows and of years, he loved the light of day and feared death. For this reason an idea occurred to him. He bent the pliable trunk of a sapling, and drawing it towards him hung his earthenware cup from the topmost twig of the young tree, which, springing back, bore the old man's offering up to the open sky.
Thus begins the history of Penguinia, and from there forward the history mirrors that of France (and more generally of Western Europe, including German-speaking areas and the British Isles). The narrative spans from the Migration Period ("Dark Ages"), when the Germanic tribes fought incessantly among themselves for territory; to the heroic Early Middle Ages with the rise of Charlemagne ("Draco the Great") and conflicts with Viking raiders ("porpoises"); through the Renaissance (Erasmus); and up to the modern era with motor cars; and even into a future time in which a thriving high-tech civilization is destroyed by a campaign of terrorist bombings, and everything begins again in an endless cycle.
The longest-running plot thread, and probably the best known, satirizes the Dreyfus affair — though both brief and complex satires of European history, politics, philosophy and theology are present throughout the novel. At various points, real historical figures such as Columba and Saint Augustine are part of the story, as well as fictionalized characters who represent historical people. Penguin Island is considered a critique of human nature from a socialist standpoint, in which morals, customs and laws are lampooned. For example, the origin of the aristocracy is presented as starting with the brutal and shameless murder of a farmer, and the seizure of his land, by a physically larger and stronger neighbor.
CHAPTER I. "I NEED LOVE"
She gave a glance at the armchairs placed before the chimney, at the tea-table, which shone in the shade, and at the tall, pale stems of flowers ascending above Chinese vases. She thrust her hand among the flowery branches of the guelder roses to make their silvery balls quiver. Then she looked at herself in a mirror with serious attention. She held herself sidewise, her neck turned over her shoulder, to follow with her eyes the spring of her fine form in its sheath-like black satin gown, around which floated a light tunic studded with pearls wherein sombre lights scintillated. She went nearer, curious to know her face of that day. The mirror returned her look with tranquillity, as if this amiable woman whom she examined, and who was not unpleasing to her, lived without either acute joy or profound sadness.
On the walls of the large drawing-room, empty and silent, the figures of the tapestries, vague as shadows, showed pallid among their antique games and dying graces. Like them, the terra-cotta statuettes on slender columns, the groups of old Saxony, and the paintings of Sevres, spoke of past glories. On a pedestal ornamented with precious bronzes, the marble bust of some princess royal disguised as Diana appeared about to fly out of her turbulent drapery, while on the ceiling a figure of Night, powdered like a marquise and surrounded by cupids, sowed flowers. Everything was asleep, and only the crackling of the logs and the light rattle of Therese's pearls could be heard.
Both hermits and cenobites led abstemious lives, taking no food till after sunset, and eating nothing but bread with a little salt and hyssop. Some retired into the desert, and led a still more strange life in some cave or tomb.
All lived in temperance and chastity; they wore a hair shirt and a hood, slept on the bare ground after long watching, prayed, sang psalms, and, in short, spent their days in works of penitence. As an atonement for original sin, they refused their body not only all pleasures and satisfactions, but even that care and attention which in this age are deemed indispensable. They believed that the diseases of our members purify our souls, and the flesh could put on no adornment more glorious than wounds and ulcers. Thus, they thought they fulfilled the words of the prophet, "The desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose."
Amongst the inhabitants of the holy Thebaid, there were some who passed their days in asceticism and contemplation; others gained their livelihood by plaiting palm fibre, or by working at harvest-time for the neighbouring farmers. The Gentiles wrongly suspected some of them of living by brigandage, and allying themselves to the nomadic Arabs who robbed the caravans. But, as a matter of fact, the monks despised riches, and the odour of their sanctity rose to heaven.
Angels in the likeness of young men, came, staff in hand, as travellers, to visit the hermitages; whilst demonsÑhaving assumed the form of Ethiopians or of animalsÑwandered round the habitations of the hermits in order to lead them into temptation. When the monks went in the morning to fill their pitcher at the spring, they saw the footprints of Satyrs and Aigipans in the sand. The Thebaid was, really and spiritually, a battlefield, where, at all times, and more especially at night, there were terrible conflicts between heaven and hell.
They have many things to tell each other, for one of them is coming back from the journey of life which the other is setting out on.
"You grow a bigger girl every day," says the old grandmother to Fanchon, "and every day I get smaller; I scarcely need now to stoop at all to touch your forehead. What matters my great age when I can see the roses of my girlhood blooming again in your cheeks, my pretty Fanchon?"
But Fanchon asked to be told again—for the hundredth time—all about the glittering paper flowers under the glass shade, the coloured pictures where our Generals in brilliant uniforms are overthrowing their enemies, the gilt cups, some of which have lost their handles, while others have kept theirs, and grandfather's gun that hangs above the chimney-piece from the nail where he put it up himself for the last time, thirty years ago.
But time flies, and the hour is come to get ready the midday dinner. Fanchon's grandmother stirs up the drowsy fire; then she breaks the eggs on the black earthenware platter. Fanchon is deeply interested in the bacon omelette as she watches it browning and sputtering over the fire. There is no one in the world like her grandmother for making omelettes and telling pretty stories. Fanchon sits on the settle, her chin on a level with the table, to eat the steaming omelette and drink the sparkling cider. But her grandmother eats her dinner, from force of habit, standing at the fireside. She holds her knife in her right hand, and in the other a crust of bread with her toothsome morsel on it.
J'ai recueilli avec z�le les propos de mon bon ma”tre, M. l'abbŽ JŽr™me Coignard, qui pŽrit comme je viens de le dire. C'Žtait un homme plein de science et de piŽtŽ. S'il avait eu l'‰me moins inqui�te, il aurait ŽgalŽ en vertu M. l'abbŽ Rollin, qu'il surpassait de beaucoup par l'Žtendue du savoir et la profondeur de l'intelligence. Il eut du moins, dans les agitations d'une vie troublŽe, l'avantage sur M. Rollin de ne point tomber dans le jansŽnisme. Car la soliditŽ de son esprit ne se laissait point Žbranler par la violence des doctrines tŽmŽraires, et je puis attester devant Dieu la puretŽ de sa foi. Il avait une grande connaissance du monde, acquise dans la frŽquentation de toutes sortes de compagnies. Cette expŽrience l'aurait beaucoup servi dans les histoires romaines qu'il aurait sans doute composŽes, ˆ l'exemple de M. Rollin, si le loisir et le temps ne lui eussent fait dŽfaut, et si sa vie ežt ŽtŽ mieux assortie ˆ son gŽnie. Ce que je rapporterai d'un si excellent homme fera l'ornement de ces mŽmoires. Et comme Aulu-Gelle, qui confŽra les plus beaux endroits des philosophes en ses Nuits attiques, comme ApulŽe, qui mit dans sa MŽtamorphose les meilleures fables des Grecs, je me donne un travail d'abeille et je veux recueillir un miel exquis. Je ne saurais nŽanmoins me flatter au point de me croire l'Žmule de ces deux grands auteurs, puisque c'est uniquement dans les propres souvenirs de ma vie et non dans d'abondantes lectures, que je puise toutes mes richesses. Ce que je fournis de mon propre fonds c'est la bonne foi. Si jamais quelque curieux lit mes mŽmoires, il reconna”tra qu'une ‰me candide pouvait seule s'exprimer dans un langage si simple et si uni. J'ai toujours passŽ pour tr�s na•f dans les compagnies o� j'ai vŽcu. Cet Žcrit ne peut que continuer cette opinion apr�s ma mort.
After several years of marriage, Queen Satine gave the King, her husband, a daughter who received the names of Paule-Marie-Aurore. The baptismal festivities were planned by the Duc des Hoisons, grand master of the ceremonies, in accordance with a formulary dating from the Emperor Honorius, which was so mildewed and so nibbled by rats that it was impossible to decipher any of it.
There were still fairies in those days, and those who had titles used to go to Court. Seven of them were invited to be god-mothers, Queen Titania, Queen Mab, the wise Vivien, trained by Merlin in the arts of enchantment, Melusina, whose history was written by Jean d'Arras, and who became a serpent every Saturday (but the baptism was on a Sunday), Urg�le, White Anna of Brittany, and Mourgue who led Ogier the Dane into the country of Avalon.
They appeared at the castle in robes of the colour of time, of the sun, of the moon, and of the nymphs, all glittering with diamonds and pearls. As all were taking their places at table an old fairy called Alcuine, who had not been invited, was seen to enter.
"Pray do not be annoyed, madame," said the King, "that you were not of those invited to this festivity; it was believed that you were either dead or enchanted."
Since the fairies grew old, there is no doubt that they used to die. They all died in time, and everybody knows that Melusina became a kitchen wench in Hell. By means of enchantment they could be imprisoned in a magic circle, a tree, a bush, or a stone, or changed into a statue, a hind, a dove, a footstool, a ring, or a slipper. But as a fact it was not because they thought her dead or enchanted that they had not invited the fairy Alcuine; it was because her presence at the banquet had been regarded as contrary to etiquette. Madame de Maintenon was able to state without the least exaggeration that "there are no austerities in the convents like those to which Court etiquette subjects the great." In accordance with his sovereign's royal wish the Duc des Hoisons had not invited the fairy Alcuine, because she had one quartering of nobility too few to be admitted to Court. When the Ministers of State represented that it was of the utmost importance to humour this powerful and vindictive fairy, of whom they would make a dangerous enemy if they excluded her from the festivities, the King replied in peremptory tones that she could not be invited, as she was not qualified by birth.
Thus said Satan in his heart. Meantime, as the shades of evening were lengthening along the base of the hills and the cottage chimneys were smoking for the evening meal, the holy man Giovanni issued from out the wood where he was wont to pray, and turned into the road leading to Santa Maris degli Angeli saying: ÒMy house is the house of joy and delight, because it is the house of poverty.Ó
And seeing Fra Giovanni wending his way homewards, Satan thought: ÒLo! here is one of those men I have come to tempt;Ó - and drawing his black cloak over his head, he advanced along the high road, which was bordered with terebinths, to meet the holy man.
Now Satan had made himself like a widow-woman with a veil, and when he had joined Fra Giovanni, he put on a honeyed voice and asked an alms of him, saying: ÒGive me an alms for the love of Him who is your friend, and whom I am not worthy so much as to name.Ó
And Fra Giovanni answered: ÒIt happens so, I have with me a little silver cup a nobleman of the countryside gave me, to have it melted down and used for the Altar of Santa Maria degli Angeli. You may take that, lady; and I will go tommorrow and ask the nobleman to let me have another of the same weight for the Blessed Virgin. Thus will his wishes be accomplished, and over and above, you will have gotten an alms for the love of God.Ó
Une hypoth�se qui nÕest pas mieux fondŽe consiste ˆ identifier cette Barbe-Bleue avec le marŽchal de Rais, qui fut ŽtranglŽ par justice au dessus des ponts de Nantes, le 26 octobre 1440. Sans rechercher avec M. Salomon Reinach si le marŽchal commit tous les crimes pour lesquels il fut condamnŽ ou si ses richesses, convoitŽes par un prince avide, ne contribu�rent point ˆ sa perte, rien dans sa vie ne ressemble ˆ ce quÕon trouve dans celle de la Barbe-Bleue ; cÕen est assez pour ne pas les confondre et pour ne pas faire de lÕun et de lÕautre un seul personnage.
Charles Perrault qui, vers 1660, eut le mŽrite de composer la premi�re biographie de ce seigneur justement remarquable pour avoir ŽpousŽ sept femmes, en fit un scŽlŽrat accompli et le plus parfait mod�le de cruautŽ quÕil y ežt au monde. Mais il est permis de douter, sinon de sa bonne foi, du moins de la sžretŽ de ses informations. Il a pu �tre prŽvenu contre son personnage. Ce ne serait pas le premier exemple dÕun historien ou dÕun po�te qui se pla”t ˆ assombrir ses peintures. Si nous avons de Titus un portrait qui semble flattŽ, il parait, au contraire, que Tacite a beaucoup noirci Tib�re. Macbeth, que la lŽgende et Shakespeare chargent de crimes, Žtait en rŽalitŽ un roi juste et sage. Il nÕassassina point par trahison le vieux roi Duncan.
Duncan, jeune encore, fut dŽfait dans une grande bataille et trouvŽ mort le lendemain en un lieu nomme la Boutique de lÕArmurier. Ce roi avait fait pŽrir plusieurs parents de Gruchno, femme de Macbeth.
In the popular imagination, a law is something abstract, without form or colour. For me a law is a green baize table, sealing-wax, paper, pens, ink-stains, green-shaded candles, books bound in calf, papers yet damp from the printer's and all smelling of printer's ink, conversations in green papered offices, files, bundles of documents, a stuffy smell, speeches, newspapers; a law, in short, is all the hundred and one things, the hundred and one tasks you have to fulfil at all hours, the grey and gentle hours of the morning, the white hours of middle day, the purple hours of evening, the silent, meditative hours of night; tasks which leave you no soul to call your own and rob you of the consciousness of your own identity.
He knew that it was in the temple itself that the hammers were forged which overthrew it. He very often said: ÒSuch is the power of theological discipline that it alone is capable of rearing great reprobates; an unbeliever who has not passed through our hands is powerless and without weapons for evil. It is within our walls that they imbibe all knowledge, even that of blasphemy.Ó From the mass of the students he only demanded industry and integrity, feeling certain that these would make good parish priests of them. But in his finest students he feared curiosity, pride, the impious boldness of the intellect, and even the qualities that brought the angels to perdition.
Such changes are in the nature of things. The mountains sink in the course of ages, and the depths of the seas, on the contrary, rise until their shells and corals are carried to the regions of clouds and ice.
Nothing endures. The face of land and sea is for ever changing. Tradition alone preserves the memory of men and places across the ages and renders real to us what has long ceased to exist. In telling you of Clarides I wish to take you back to times that have long since vanished. Thus I begin:
The Countess of Blanchelande having placed on her golden hair a little black hood embroidered with pearls....
But before proceeding I must beg very serious persons not to read this. It is not written for them. It is not written for grave people who despise trifles and who always require to be instructed. I only venture to offer this to those who like to be entertained, and whose minds are both young and gay. Only those who are amused by innocent pleasures will read this to the end. Of these I beg, should they have little children, that they will tell them about my Honey-Bee. I wish this story to please both boys and girls and yet I hardly dare to hope it will. It is too frivolous for them and, really, only suitable for old-fashioned children. I have a pretty little neighbour of nine whose library I examined the other day. I found many books on the microscope and the zoophytes, as well as several scientific story-books. One of these I opened at the following lines: "The cuttle-fish Sepia Officinalis is a cephalopodic mollusc whose body includes a spongy organ containing a chylaqueous fluid saturated with carbonate of lime." My pretty little neighbour finds this story very interesting. I beg of her, unless she wishes me to die of mortification, never to read the story of Honey-Bee.
I moved forward to confront the silence and solitude and the mild terrors that lowered before me in the growing dusk. The tide of darkness rose by imperceptible degrees and drowned the landscape. The infinite of starry eyes winked in the sky, while in the gloom below the fireflies spangled the bushes with their trembling love-lights.
These living sparks cover all the Roman Campagna and the plains of Umbria and Tuscany, on May nights. I had watched them in former days on the Appian Way, round the tomb of C¾cilia MetellaÑtheir playground for two thousand years; now I found them dancing the selfsame dance in the land of St. Catherine and of Pia de' Tolomei, at the gates of Sienna, that most melancholy and most fascinating of cities. All along my path they quivered in the bents and brushwood, chasing one another, and ever and anon, at the call of desire, tracing above the roadway the fiery arch of their darting flight.
On the white ribbon of the road, in these clear Spring nights, the only person I used to encounter was the Reverend Father Adone Doni, who at the time was, like myself, working in the old Academydegli Intronati. I had taken an instant liking for the Cordelier in question, a man who, grown grey in study, still preserved the cheerful, facile humour of a simple, unlettered countryman. He was very willing to converse; and I greatly relished his bland speech, his cultivated yet artless way of thought, his look of old Silenus purged at the baptismal font, the play of his passions at once keen and refined, the strange, alluring personality that informed the whole man. Assiduous at the library, he was also a frequent visitor to the marketplace, halting for choice in front of the peasant girls who sell oranges, and listening to their unconventional remarks. He was learning, he would say, from their lips the trueLingua Toscana.
"I much wish to eat one of these fish with pounded onions."
Balthasar gave the order. When she had eaten he discovered that he had forgotten to bring money. It gave him no concern, for he thought that he could slip out with her without paying the reckoning. But the tavern-keeper barred their way, calling them a vile slave and a worthless she-ass. Balthasar struck him to the ground with a blow of his fist. Whereupon some of the drinkers drew their knives and flung themselves on the two strangers. But the black man, seizing an enormous pestle used to pound Egyptian onions, knocked down two of his assailants and forced the others back. And all the while he was conscious of the warmth of Balkis' body as she cowered close against him; it was this which made him invincible.
The tavern-keeper's friends, not daring to approach again, flung at him from the end of the pot-house jars of oil, pewter vessels, burning lamps, and even the huge bronze cauldron in which a whole sheep was stewing. This cauldron fell with a horrible crash on Balthasar's head and split his skull. For a moment he stood as if dazed, and then summoning all his strength he flung the cauldron back with such force that its weight was increased tenfold. The shock of the hurtling metal was mingled with indescribable roars and death rattles. Profiting by the terror of the survivors, and fearing that Balkis might be injured, he seized her in his arms and fled with her through the silence and darkness of the lonely byways. The stillness of night enveloped the earth, and the fugitives heard the clamour of the women and the carousers, who pursued them at haphazard, die away in the darkness. Soon they heard nothing more than the sound of dripping blood as it fell from the brow of Balthasar on the breast of Balkis.
I moved forward to confront the silence and solitude and the mild terrors that lowered before me in the growing dusk. The tide of darkness rose by imperceptible degrees and drowned the landscape. The infinite of starry eyes winked in the sky, while in the gloom below the fireflies spangled the bushes with their trembling love-lights.
Here from 1825 to 1857 dwelt the great man of the family, Alexandre Bussart d'Esparvieu, Vice-President of the Council of State under the Government of July, Member of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences, and author of an Essay on the Civil and Religious Institutions of Nations, in three octavo volumes, a work unfortunately left incomplete.
This eminent theorist of a Liberal monarchy left as heir to his name his fortune and his fame, Fulgence-Adolphe Bussart d'Esparvieu, senator under the Second Empire, who added largely to his patrimony by buying land over which the Avenue de l'ImpŽratice was destined ultimately to pass, and who made a remarkable speech in favour of the temporal power of the popes.
Fulgence had three sons. The eldest, Marc-Alexandre, entering the army, made a splendid career for himself: he was a good speaker. The second, GaŽtan, showing no particular aptitude for anything, lived mostly in the country, where he hunted, bred horses, and devoted himself to music and painting. The third son, RenŽ, destined from his childhood for the law, resigned his deputyship to avoid complicity in the Ferry decrees against the religious orders; and later, perceiving the revival under the presidency of Monsieur Falli�res of the days of Decius and Diocletian, put his knowledge and zeal at the service of the persecuted Church.
From the Concordat of 1801 down to the closing years of the Second Empire all the d'Esparvieus attended mass for the sake of example. Though sceptics in their inmost hearts, they looked upon religion as an instrument of government.
Mark and RenŽ were the first of their race to show any sign of sincere devotion. The General, when still a colonel, had dedicated his regiment to the Sacred Heart, and he practised his faith with a fervour remarkable even in a soldier, though we all know that piety, daughter of Heaven, has marked out the hearts of the generals of the Third Republic as her chosen dwelling-place on earth.
Faith has its vicissitudes. Under the old order the masses were believers, not so the aristocracy or the educated middle class. Under the First Empire the army from top to bottom was entirely irreligious. To-day the masses believe nothing. The middle classes wish to believe, and succeed at times, as did Marc and RenŽ d'Esparvieu. Their brother GaŽtan, on the contrary, the country gentleman, failed to attain to faith. He was an agnostic, a term commonly employed by the modish to avoid the odious one of freethinker. And he openly declared himself an agnostic, contrary to the admirable custom which deems it better to withhold the avowal.
Les dieux ont soif : quand il choisit pour titre ce mot de Camille Desmoulins, Anatole France ne veut nullement rejeter sur une fatalité tragique les atrocités de la Terreur. Ce texte admirable décrit l'horreur du fanatisme, l'obscurantisme gagnant les Lumières elles-mêmes, la barbarie prenant le masque du progrès. En 1912, ce livre du patriarche de la Gauche française qui dénonçait les excès de la Révolution fut accueilli comme un paradoxe. Aujourd'hui, cette représentation alarmée de l'histoire se lit comme une lucide préface à l'horrible xxe siècle, un avertissement contre l'ignorance et la peur qui engendrent la bêtise, la grande tueuse.
Édition de Pierre Citti.