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    Marguerite

    by Anatole France

    Book Description

    M ARGUE WE By ANATOLE FRANCE TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH BY J. LEWIS MAY. WITH TWENTY-NINE ORIGINAL WOODCUTS BY SIMEON LONDON JOHN LANE THE BODLEY HEAD LIMITED NEW YORK. JOHN LANE COMPANY MCMXXI Printed at The Morland Press Ltd 190 Ebury Street London SWi PREFATORY LETTER Publish Marguerite, dear Monsieur Andre Coq, if you so desire, but pray re lieve me from all responsibility in the matter. It would argue too much literary conceit on my part were I anxious to restore it to the light of day. It would argue, perhaps, still more did I endeavour to keep it in obscurity. You will not succeed in wresting it for long from the eternal oblivion where-UBto it is destined. Ay me, how old it is I had lost all recollection of it. I have just read it over, without fear or favour, as I should a work unknown to rne, and it does not seem to me that I have lighted upon a masterpiece. It would ill beseem me to say more about it than that. My only pleasure as I read it was derived from the proof it afforded that, even in those far-off days, when I was writing this little trifle, I was no great lover of the Third Republic with its pinchbeck virtues, its militarist imperialism, its ideas of conquest, its love of money, its contempt for the handicrafts, its unswerving predi lection for the unlovely. Its leaders caused me terrible misgivings. And the event has surpassed my apprehensions. But it was not in my calculations to make myself a laughing-stock, by taking Mar guerite as a text for generalizations on French politics of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The specimens of type and the woodcuts you have shown me promise a very comely little book. Believe me, dear Monsieur Coq, Yourssincerely, Anatole France. La Bdchellerie, 1 6th April, 1920. MARGUERITE 5th July S I left the Palais-Bourbon at five oclock that afternoon, it rejoiced my heart to breathe in the sunny air. The sky was bland, the river gleamed, the foliage was fresh and green. Everything seemed to whisper an invitation to idleness. Along the Pont de la Concorde, in the direction of the Champs-Elysees, victorias and landaus kept rolling by. In the shadow of the lowered MARGUERITE carriage - hoods, womens faces gleamed clear and radiant and I felt a thrill of plea sure as I watched them flash by like hopes vanishingandreappearinginendless succes sion. Every woman as she passed by left me with an impression of light and perfume. I think a man, if he is wise, will not ask much more than that of a beautiful woman. A gleam and a perfume Many a love-affair leaves even less behind it. Moreover, that day, if Fortune herself had run with her wheel a-spinning before my very nose along the pavement of the Pont de la Concorde, I should not have so much as stretched forth an arm to pluck her by her golden hair. I lacked nothing that day all was mine. It was five oclock and I was free till dinner-time. Yes, free Free to saunter at will, to breathe at my ease for two hours, to look on at things and not have to talk, to let my thoughts wander as I listed. All was mine, I say again. My happiness was 2

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