The Great Expatriate Writers by Stoddard Martin (auth.)

By Stoddard Martin (auth.)

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He wants to create around her a universe not quite of this world and its realities. Part of the game is for the woman to stay married, so that her affair may remain laced constantly with idealism and fantasy. If the woman is suited to this sort of vicarious existence, and is quite perfect in other ways, the lover may stay with her. Otherwise, and more commonly especially in youth, he will commit serial adulteries until, like the traveller, he may find that exceptional situation which will allow him to imagine himself committed to no one or to many, free and secure at the same time.

The cordon of his office constitutes his sense of fashion. Music and art have no place in his consciousness, always a deficiency chez Stendhal. He is too talkative - a characteristic which plagues all provincials. He discards old friends for being on the wrong side of political events (thus, ironically, leaving himself friendless when his rival Valenod collects 'the scum of all classes' against him). These are his outer faults. On the inside he is no better. He views women as childish, inferior creatures who make scenes and feign illnesses to get their way; and when confronted with the prospect of Julien making love to his wife, he is horrified, not because he is losing a beloved but because his routine may be upset - he may have to undertake the tedious task of breaking in a new wife, and he will lose the benefit of a legacy his wife will inherit from a rich aunt.

The prisoner of Chillon had had it - he had had it indeed more than Childe Harold galloping across Estremadura or at sea. Liberty, Byron knew, was a spiritual condition - indeed, a metaphysical one. To have it in oneself was to be prepared for whatever destiny had in store. To have it with sufficient intensity to let it prevade all one's 38 The Great Expatriate Writers travels and works was to be prepared for transcendence. The admiration of posterity, where Time and Torture could not touch one, was thus the final destination and homeland.

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