Guy de MAUPASSANT
Lettre autographe signée à la Comtesse Potocka : " Voulez vous que je vous garde le manuscrit de la très longue nouvelle que je termine en ce moment. C'est presque un roman."
Cannes 17 février 1884, 11,5x17,7cm, 6 pages sur deux feuillets doubles.
Letter autograph signed by Guy de Maupassant to Countess Potocka, 124 lines in black ink on two double sheets, envelope attached. A postal stamp on the envelope indicates the date of February 17, 1884.An important letter from Guy de Maupassant to Countess Potocka, a rich social and intellectual aristocrat, for whom the writer has nourished until his death a violent and unfulfilled passion. Maupassant wishes to offer him a manuscript of one of his novels, and entrusts in admirable lines his indefectible admiration for her.While immersing himself in the writing of his masterpiece Bel-Ami , Maupassant signs here a fabulous letter addressed to his muse, whose great beauty and fickle personality appear in filigree of his news and his great Romanesque masterpieces ( Mont-Oriol , Our Heart, Humble drama ).
Published in Histoires littéraires
, No. 40, October-November-December 2009, p. ?
Maupassant wrote to Emmanuela Pignatelli di Cergharia, wife of Count Nicholas Potocki, who occupied Avenue Friedland in Paris, a sumptuous hotel where she gathered a real court of sighers "died of love for her", nicknamed "Maccabees" by allusion to the seven brothers martyrs of the Bible. Met a few years before, she exerted a great influence on Maupassant, the year of this missive - 1884 - marking the peak of their affair. Their worldly and epistolary relations continued until the writer was interned at Dr. Blanche's clinic in January 1892.
The letter is sent from Cannes where Maupassant stays since December 1884. Propelled to the forefront of the French literary scene thanks to his novel Une Vie
(1883), he connects articles, reports and news published in Le Gaulois, Le Figaro,
and Gil Blas
. Quickly weary of his Parisian life and in poor physical and mental health, he fled to Etretat and the Midi, notably to Antibes and Cannes, and multiplied cures and far-off trips to Algeria. This stay in the old town of Cannes, rue du Redan, has certainly inspired the journey of Cannes by Georges Duroy, the hero of his famous novel Bel-Ami
published in 1885 in Gil Blas,
and the agony of the character of Charles Forestier , came to cure his phthisis in the same city.
Maupassant, a dandy exiled to Cannes, claims in this letter to lead a life of monastic abstinence: " Yes, madam, young suit, famine, famine. And, my faith, tranquility, thanks to Saint-Benoît. I am quoted here two or three old women who unite the age to wealth and who might be suitable for my projects. So far I have refused to see them. I live honest in continence!
". Yet far from fleeing the world, he embarked a wealth of knowledge aboard the Louisette,
his small fishing boat bought in 1883, and seems to have fun of this frivolous company he tells in detail to Countess Potocka: " I walk in my boat the princess of Sagan whom I find very kind, Mrs. de Gallifet, spiritual, but more banal gracious, a lady of Montgomery, ugly but original, and the duke of Chartres who photographs the landscapes and ourselves [ ...] I'm talking about all these people because I think you know them more or less. In the meantime I'm doing jokes. I have two or three excellent victims, and I mount an alleged financial affair, which, I hope, will drive two or three fools out of my friends. That's my life
. Maupassant also plans to continue his journey to Italy, which he will perform next year alongside the painter Henri Gerveix - another suitor of the Countess and used to his living room on Avenue Friedland. Throughout the letter, the writer will attempt by many stratagems to be desirable and solicited by other women " I received several letters from unknowns, dated Paris. I made a file that I will show you. Their literature is very mediocre and little made to raise the head or the desire
. This attitude, no doubt feigned, is added to many other desperate impulses to reach this woman domineering in the heart of stone, which already had an army of worshipers, including the painter Jacques-Emile Blanche, the writer
Yet, beyond their worldly exchanges, this letter is distinguished from the rest of the correspondence between the Countess and the writer by a rare and important literary secret: " Do you want me to keep you the manuscript of the very long news that I finish right now. It's almost a novel. She will go to Le Figaro unless he is shocked by some passages; in which case I will reserve to him the following which will be shorter, more chaste and more poetic; but also less gay, I believe it at least
"(WHAT?). This passage plunges us into the heart of Maupassant's writing process, also marking the confidence he placed in his muse, which contributed to the success of Une Vie
(1883) and whose features are found in the Baroness de Frémines de Our Heart
and the heroine of Mont-Oriol
(1887). Maupassant's insignificant honor, by offering him the manuscript [DE QUOI ????], is part of an attempt to seduce remained vain, constantly renewed until the poem "on a fan" (1889), dedicated to the Countess a few years before the death of the writer. CENSURE? Indeed, he was often denied passages from his news in the newspapers.
The letter also contains beautiful lines of an overwhelming openness, evoking a famous excursion to Auvergne with the Countess the previous summer, while Maupassant was treating himself at the Hotel des Princes Chatel-Guyon. This country walk undoubtedly tightened the confused bonds that united them and triggered a passionate passion in the writer: " But tell me why some memories come back to you constantly, everywhere. I think and think about our trip around Pavin Lake. At all times, at home, outside, , in the countryside, I see the large bowl full of blue water and filled with trees, I see the notch of the ravine by which we arrive at this dead crater, and I you see, walking in front of me and tearing herbs with a sudden gesture. From time to time you turned to look at the woods and I tried to understand what was in your eye, behind your eye, this secret of an unknown thought
. The writer will write on paper the enigmatic character of the Countess through two characters of the exquisite novel entitled Humble drama
, also located at Lake Pavin, he signed his pen name Maufrigneuse (October 2, 1883). Reminiscent of an intimate and happy past, this visit is full of regret - Maupassant expresses in strangled words the mute and repressed passion he experienced during their rendezvous in Auvergne: " If we talk, I loved at length with intimacy, what I hope, I will tell you many of the ideas that I had that day, ideas about you, your mind, your nature. I may have been wrong but I do not think so. This is the time I saw you most clearly, it seems to me? These ideas have made me want to know you more. And then ... and then I understood that it was always necessary to play the interrupted words and converse by rebus, not by your fault, but by the fault of destiny; and that's how I did not tell you the lot of things I have in store for you. "Exceptional missive of a Maupassant transi love, offering a unique look at the literary life, worldly and intimate of the writer during his exile from his Parisian life in the South of France.
6 000 €
Réf : 66408