Lot 24
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Dimitri Roudine. Followed by Journal d'un homme de trop and Trois
Rencontres. Paris, J. Hetzel, no date [1863].
In-12 : green half-chagrin, four-ribbed spine decorated with gilt and cold filets, speckled edges (period binding).
First edition.
Collection of three short stories by Yvan Tourguéniev, translated into French by himself with Louis
Remarkable autograph letter signed on the false-title: to Mr Gustave Flaubert testimony of deep sympathy
Paris 1863. J. Tourguéneff
A fine copy.
The binder's knife was a little too greedy and the last three letters of the word "sympathie" have been cut off.
Attached is the first letter addressed by Gustave Flaubert to Yvan Tourguéniev, on March 16, 1863: a famous letter written after having read the two works that the Russian novelist had sent him: DIMITRI ROUDINE AND SCENES OF RUSSIAN LIFE.
Dear Mr. Tourguenef
How grateful I am for the gift you have given me! I have just read your two volumes and I cannot resist telling you that I am delighted.
For a long time you have been a master to me. But the more I study you, the more your talent amazes me. I admire this way of painting which is both vehement and restrained, this sympathy which reaches down to the most intimate beings and gives a thought to the landscapes. One sees and dreams.
Just as when I read Don Quixote I would like to go on horseback, on a dusty road and eat olives and raw onions in the shade of a rock, your Scenes of Russian Life make me want to be shaken in a telegraph in the middle of snow-covered fields - hearing wolves barking. Your works give off an acrid and sweet perfume (a charming sadness) that penetrates to the bottom of my soul.
What art you have! What a mixture of tenderness, irony, observation & colour! - And how well all this is combined! How you bring out your effects! What a sure hand!
While being particular, you are general. How many things I have felt, experienced, have I not found in you (in the Three Encounters, among others, in Jacques Passinkof, in the Diary of a Man Who is Too Much, etc., everywhere!
But what has not been praised enough in you is the heart, that is to say, a permanent emotion, I don't know what deep & hidden sensibility.
I was very happy a fortnight ago to make your acquaintance & to shake your hands. - This is what I am doing again - more strongly than ever - in asking you to believe me, dear colleague, all yours.
Gve Flaubert
Croisset near Rouen. March 16.
The letter bears the stamp of the Viardot Collection: it was probably given by the Russian novelist to his French translator Louis Viardot and his wife Pauline, with whom Tourguéniev was madly in love.
(Autograph letter signed on blue paper, 3 pages in-8.)
The "Moscove", as he affectionately called him, was not only a friend to Flaubert, but also a writer to his liking, as he vividly emphasizes in this first letter. Later, he would confess to
Goncourt: "I have read all of Turgenev's books. He is a very talented man! What I like in him is a distinction and a permanent poetry."
On several occasions, Flaubert welcomed to Croisset the man whom his niece regarded as "the best friend of her uncle's last years". But, at the same time, he was annoyed by the attitude of the Viardots, who, he believed, prevented him from seeing him: "Moscove is beginning to disgust me with his spinelessness!" he wrote to his niece in September 1873: "I am sure he wants to come, but the Viardots are dragging him away; and he does not dare to face their wrath."
That Tourguéniev offered this beautiful letter from Flaubert to the Viardots makes the provenance all the more piquant.
"For a long time you have been a master to me" (Flaubert to Tourguéniev)
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