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A letter from Gustave Flaubert to Louise Colet

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Evelyn McCorristin Peters: A letter from Gustave Flaubert to Louise Colet

Evelyn McCorristin Peters

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A letter from Gustave Flaubert to Louise Colet

From "A Writer's Almanac" Saturday, August 7, 2010

On this day in 1846, Gustave Flaubert  wrote a stunning letter to his lover, poet Louise Colet.

The two writers met at a sculptor's studio in Paris. Colet was married when she and Flaubert began their wild love affair. She'd gotten married young, to a Parisian professor of music, in order to escape a life in the French countryside. Once in Paris, she became a famous poet. During the eight years of his affair with Colet, Flaubert wrote his masterpiece Madam Bovary, about a woman who seeks out adulterous affairs in order to escape from provincial life.

On this day in 1846 — 164 years ago today — Flaubert wrote to Colet:

"Separated, destined to see one another but rarely, it is frightful ... and yet what is to be done? I cannot conceive how I managed to leave you ... your image will remain for me suffused with poetry and tenderness, as was last night's sky in the milky vapours of its silvery mist. This month I will come to see you, I will be with you one big whole day [...]

"You are certainly the only woman that I have loved. You are the only woman that I have ventured to wish to please. Thank you, thank you [...]"

The following day, Flaubert began another long intense letter to Colet. In it, he wrote:
"I'll arrive some evening about six. We'll set the night ablaze! I'll be your desire, you'll be mine, and we'll gorge ourselves on each other to see whether we can be satiated. Never! No, never! Your heart is an inexhaustible spring, you let me drink deep, it floods me, penetrates me, I drown. Oh! The beauty of your face, all pale and quivering under my kisses!"

**Translation Note**

The first letter (Aug. 7, here beginning "Separated, destined" is translated by John Charles Tarver and appears in his Gustave Flaubert as seen in his works and correspondence, published in 1895.

The second letter (Aug. 8, beginning with "My Deplorable mania") is translated by Francis Steegmuller and appears in The Letters of Gustave Flaubert: 1830-1857, published in 1979.




Blogger Angela (Posy Moe) said...

Oh my gosh!! So romantic I could just die.

August 8, 2010 at 8:44 PM  
Anonymous sample sale siren said...

if only all adulterous affairs were this captivating!

August 9, 2010 at 8:00 PM  
Blogger Evelyn McCorristin Peters said...

I wonder if it seems so romantic because it's so different than romance would be expressed now, but isn't it a shame that so few can express themselves in this way, many probably couldn't then either!
...I don't think this captivation lasts long for most!

August 9, 2010 at 9:47 PM  

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