Quinola’s resources


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The captain: Believe me, I profess, along with the vast majority of Spaniards, a radical aversion to….the gallows. (quinola resources)

XIXth volume of works of Honoré de Balzac edited by widow André Houssiaux, publisher, Hebert and Co, successors, 7 rue Perronet – Paris (1877)  


Comedy in five acts, in prose, preceded by a prologue. Performed at the Second Théâtre Français (Odéon) on Saturday, March 10, 1842

Preface/Analysis When the author of this play would have done it only to obtain the universal praise accorded by the newspapers to his books, and which perhaps exceeded what was due to him, Quinola’s Resources would be an excellent literary speculation; but, seeing himself the object of so much praise and so many insults, he realized that his theatrical debut would be even more difficult than his literary one had been, and he armed himself with courage for both the present and the future. The day will come when this play will be used as a battering ram for a new play, just as they took all his books, even his play entitled Vautrin, to overwhelm Les Ressources de Quinola. However calm his resignation, the author can’t help but make two observations here. Among fifty soap opera makers, there is not a single one who has not treated as a fable, invented by the author, the historical fact on which this piece of Quinola’s Resources is based. Long before M. Arago mentioned this fact in his history of steam, published in the Annuaire du Bureau des longitudes, the author, to whom the fact was known, had foreseen the great comedy that must have preceded the act of despair to which the unknown inventor was driven when, in the middle of the sixteenth century, he steamed a ship in the port of Barcelona, sinking it himself in the presence of two hundred thousand spectators. This observation is in response to the derision caused by the supposed invention of steam before the Marquis of Worcester, Salomon de Caus and Papin. The second observation concerns the strange slander under which almost all the makers of soap operas have saddled Lavradi, one of the characters in this comedy, and which they wanted to turn into a hideous creation. A reading of the play, whose analysis has not been accurately done by any critic, will show that Lavradi, sentenced to ten years in the presides, comes to ask the king for a pardon. It’s no secret that in the sixteenth century, the harshest penalties were meted out for the most minor offenses, and that in the old theater, valets in Quinola’s position are treated with great leniency. We could make several volumes with the lamentations of critics who, for nearly twenty years, have been asking for comedies in the Italian, Spanish or English form: we’re trying one; and everyone would rather forget what they’ve been saying for twenty years than fail to stifle a man bold enough to venture down such a fruitful path, and which his seniority now makes almost new. Let us not forget to recall, to the shame of our times, the hurrah of improbations with which the title of Duke of Neptunado, sought by Philip II for the inventor, a hurrah which educated readers will refuse to believe, but which was such that the actors, being intelligent people, cut this title from the rest of the play. The cheers came from spectators who, every morning, read in the newspapers about the title of Duke of Victory, given to Espartero, and who could not have been unaware of the title of Prince of Peace, given to the last favorite of the penultimate King of Spain. How can such ignorance be foreseen? Who doesn’t know that most Spanish titles, especially at the time of Charles V and Philip II, recall the circumstance to which they were owed. Orendayes took the title of Pes, for signing the treaty of 1725. An admiral took the Transport-Real, for taking the Infant to Italy.

C:\Users\Marilyne\Desktop\Balzac notes and images of workEditon original Les Ressources de Quinola.jpg

Les ressources de Quinola, a comedy in five acts written by H. de Balzac in Paris in 1842. First edition by Hyppolite Souverain In-8°, {4}-316-16p.

Navarro took over that of the Vittoria after the naval battle at Toulon, although victory was indecisive. These examples and many others are surpassed by the famous Minister of Finance, a parvenu merchant who took the title of Marquis de Rien-en-Soi(L’Ensenada). By producing a work with all the liberties of the old French and Spanish theaters, the author has allowed himself an attempt called for by more than one organ of public opinion and all those who attended the first performances: he wanted to summon a real audience, and have the play performed in front of a full house of paying spectators. The failure of this test has been so well documented by all the newspapers, that the need for clamor remains forever demonstrated. The author was faced with the dilemma posed by experts in the field: if he introduced twelve hundred non-paying spectators, his success would be denied; if he made twelve hundred spectators pay, his success would be almost impossible. The author prefers peril. Such is the reason for this first performance, where so many people were unhappy to have been elevated to the dignity of independent judges. The author will therefore return to the shameful and ignoble rut that so many abuses have dug into dramatic successes; but it is not useless to say here that the first performance of the Quinola’s resources was thus given to the benefit of the claqueurs, who are the only triumphers of this evening, from which they had been banished. To characterize the criticisms made of this comedy, suffice it to say that out of fifty newspapers, all of which, for twenty years, have lavished on the latest fallen vaudevillist this banal phrase: The piece is by a witty man who will take his revengenone of them used it to Quinola Resourcesthat everyone wanted to bury. This remark suffices for the author’s ambition. Without the author having done anything to obtain such promises, a few people had in advance given their encouragement to his attempt, and these proved more insulting than critical; but the author regards such misfortunes as the greatest happiness that can befall him, for experience is gained by losing false friends. So it is as much a pleasure as a duty for him to publicly thank those who have remained loyal to him, like Monsieur Léon Gozlan, to whom he owes a debt of gratitude; like Monsieur Victor Hugo, who, as it were, protested against the audience at the first performance, by returning to see the play at the second; like Monsieur de Lamartine and Madame de Girardin, who maintained their first judgment despite the general irritation. Such approvals are a consolation after a fall. Lagny, April 2, 1842.

Source: Preface from Œuvres complètes de H.de Balzac, XIXe volume : Editeur Ve Andre HOUSSIAUX, EDITEUR – HEBERT ET Cie , SUCCESSEURS 7, Rue Perronet 7 – 1877

Here’s a harsh review by Gaschon de Molène, literary critic for the Revue des Deux Mondes and the Journal des Débats , a French man of letters (1812-1862). In truth, it is with regret and sorrow that I write this page of our literary history, and yet I would not lack the facts to make it lively and curious. Never has the name of artist been more lavishly lavished than in our time, never has there been a more noisy display of all the feelings of honor, elevation, disinterestedness and frankness that such a name should imply. In these times of doubt and disappointment, art is a magic word for us, a word of rallying and hope that reminds me, by the sympathies it awakens, by the enthusiasms it excites, of the great word so passionately loved, so misunderstood by Jean-Jacques and his century, the word of virtue. Julie, Saint-Preux, Volmar, cry out: “Vertu! vertu!” on every page of La Nouvelle Héloïse; there isn’t a book today where art isn’t spoken of incessantly; poets, novelists, critics, everyone makes this beautiful name ring out. Well, there are those among us who strive to make this religion as deceptive as that of the 18th century. The eighteenth century was a debauched age: writers turned their virtuous impulses into the transports and tenderness of drunken men at Mlle Quinaut’s suppers. Our century is an industrial one, and if we’re not careful, the impulses towards art will turn into unbridled desires for hazardous speculation, passion and gambler’s delirium in literary gambling dens. I hate, and I hate deeply, all those poems of Parisian existence that the novelists of this time have so often tried to write, the picture of the struggles of the conscience against the thousand miseries of life, the intervention of the usurer in the writer’s home, the irruption of the hideous specters of reality among the sweet phantoms of the imagination. Well, it’s the song of one of these poems, the chapter of one of these stories that I would be obliged to trace, if I wanted to stir up the ideas that will henceforth be attached to M. de Balzac’s latest drama, apart from all the criticisms that the play itself may have raised. But my pen refuses to do so. By judging the work without appreciating the author’s conduct, our task will be even more difficult. M. de Balzac wanted nothing less than to give us a second Figaro. It’s not the first time he’s wandered in the footsteps of Beaumarchais. One day he undertook a campaign similar to the one that exterminated Goëzman. Where Beaumarchais had sent the light squadrons of his rapid phrases, those swarms of wasps that seemed to have been taken from Voltaire’s beehives, M. de Balzac sent the heavy, ill-ordered battalions of his dragging phrases. The author of Lys dans la Vallée was not content with this first attempt; he had the imprudence to provide further proof that comedy and satire escaped his mind. When Geoffroy, the flap-jawed critic who placed the principles of his college discipline at the service of Bonaparte’s military discipline, spoke of Figaro, it was with transports of anger, outpourings of bile that are hard to fathom. In the midst of the torrents of insults that each performance of La Folle Journée brought forth from his pen, there were undoubtedly fair reflections and deserved reproaches ; but what gave Geoffroy’s criticism something of the misguided criticism of the Patouillet and Nonotte was his impotent effort to deny the undeniable verve, the rousing warmth, in a word the spirit, the sovereign, all-powerful, radiant spirit, which shines, bursts and subjugates in the plays of the man whom Maupertuis and d’Argens could have called their reverend father as well as Voltaire. The poor Jesuit struggled in vain against this damnable spirit, the evil one emerging victorious from his exorcisms. With each revival of Figaro, Geoffroy’s goupillon waved desperately, and after each of Geoffroy’s articles, Figaro stood with his mocking, bold, provocative face; the audience’s invincible infatuation always brought the cursed apparition back to the stage. If M. de Balzac had lived under the Empire, and if, which I doubt very much, the man who outlawed Pinto had left the stage free for the Quinola resources, Geoffroy would have encountered the same grounds for anger in this comedy as in La Folle Journée, and his arguments would certainly not have broken down against the same obstacle. The hero of M. de Balzac’s hero is the hero of Beaumarchais, minus the brilliant costume of body and mind; on his body, the shameful rags that have long excited the laughter of boulevard spectators, the pierced felt, the torn and filthy pourpoint, replace the embroidered hat, the jacket sparkling with buttons of the merry barber of Andalusia ; on his mind, the shreds of withered and deformed language that the habit of writing large books in a hurry has given to novelists of this time, replace the dapper attire of the coquettish and uncluttered language of Huron and Candide. Besides, if M. de Balzac had had the talent to create a Figaro, his era would have rejected such a creation. Figaro’s reign is over; like all the world’s reigns, it had its day, which faded away never to be reborn. It was around 1784, at the end of a century that could have been mistaken for the end of an orgy, when the masters were drunk, and resembled Petronius’ Roman, who wants to set all his slaves free by drinking his last cup; It was then, and only then, that the lackey who had remained behind the table, seeing them drink and not drinking, could come and sit down in front of those he was serving, and take advantage of the fact that drunkenness had torn the stick from their hands, to treat them as insolent equals. Figaro was only possible for a single moment; so true is this, that the man whose genius is now put above all the geniuses of his time, Molière himself, produced in his Scapin only an incomplete type, unworthy of being among those with whom he endowed the stage. In the 17th century, Léandre or Valère was happy to listen to Scapin talk about the tricks he could play on barbarians; but if he’d started talking about society and morality, they’d have corrected the shortcomings of his mind on his shoulders. Would you like me to tell you in two words the story of Beaumarchais’ hero, to prove to you that he can’t come back? Here it is: In Molière’s day, he was called Scapin, had his hand out for full purses, his back for ox nerves, and only thought to distinguish men as tutors and lovers. In the days of the philosophers, he stole Voltaire’s tales from his masters, and read over their shoulders a few pages of the Encyclopédie; they found him so learned, they made him a steward; he became the Figaro we’ve all enjoyed, the important man of the antechamber, fat and well-fed, with a lively eye and a fresh complexion. This state lasted for him until 89. Then Figaro disappeared like those he had attacked. I don’t believe he emigrated, however; I rather suspect he bought the property his masters were abandoning. What is certain is that his role is no longer possible, because the order he used to frown upon no longer exists. What does Quinola represent? He represents a species of man even lower than the one Beaumarchais had in mind. The man who created him fooled himself by mistaking him for a son of Scapin and Figaro. It’s just a new transformation of this shameful character, whose name is one of the most expressive insults in popular language, and who has come to symbolize the most wretched miseries of our time. I thought there was a tacit agreement among honest people to leave this odious creation in oblivion; if it has, as is claimed, its model in a certain debased and corrupted nature, it’s a nature that, thank God, we’ve never had before our eyes. M. de Balzac’s imagination has long been tormented by this impure phantom from which we flattered ourselves we’d be forever delivered. Vautrin had the sad honor of providing the language of the last classes with a synonym for the name we don’t want to trace here. Quinola’s role is simply a reminiscence of Vautrin’s. If M. de Balzac wasn’t stirring in Les Ressources de Quinola other ideas than those he has already raised in tackling the stage, we would have passed over his play in silence, we don’t recognize ourselves as judges of portraits whose originals we haven’t seen; but, alongside the crude and insignificant comedy, the unfortunate imitation of Beaumarchais, he has imagined placing a sketch of modern drama. He wanted to give us back the aggressive mockery and daring gaiety of the 18th century, a pretension that was not enough for him. He wanted to make vibrate, at the same time as these mocking bells, the noisy and sonorous strings that the genius of today’s times is still trying to make resound by striking with desperate blows on the keyboard of the human soul. It’s a step into a new world. There’s a great and serious thought that can bring heart-rending despair or infinite consolation to souls: it’s the thought that was first expressed in an eternally sublime way in the passion of Christ, the thought of the sufferings, pains and tortures that a divine intelligence must expect to endure here below. In the centuries that preceded us, this thought, if it preoccupied the minds, did not translate into works of art; in the last two (since these are the ones whose history we know best), it was impossible for it to occur: the peaceful and radiant society of the 17th century would not have understood it, the frivolous and turbulent society of Voltaire’s century would have mocked it mercilessly. In our time, when, it must be admitted, if faith is in few hearts, the insult is on no lips, we have seen it reappear like many other elevated and austere ideas from which the soul of thinkers and poets, if not that of believers, has made its profit. The most beautiful, the noblest form it has received, is that given to it by the author of Stello in his beautiful drama of Chatterton. ChattertonWe are talking here about the hero of the drama and not, as M. de Vigny himself said, the poor desolate child whose talent and existence only delivered spring flowers to the breath of death; Chatterton is the unrecognized genius to whom the indifference, disdain and petty jealousies of men have subjected a veritable passion. M. de Vigny’s play is an artist’s work par excellence, bearing the imprint of a beloved and painful labor, leaving long tremors in the soul like the symphonies of Weber or Beethoven; in short, it is one of those works that hang tears from the eyelashes of all young eyelids; the only reproach to be levelled at it is that these tears, instead of being salutary, are sterile and sometimes dangerous. Chatterton has the great disadvantage of nurturing and exalting that unfortunate eighteen-year-old pride that we wish we could ward off, while respecting it as an illusion and admiring it as a virtue. But, if this drama can produce disastrous effects on some of those ardent brains always ready to let the bullet from Werther’s pistol penetrate their disappointed hopes of glory or tenderness, if it can send, as Goethe’s terrible novel did, misguided souls to accuse it before a tribunal other than our own, it has, to fight in its favor, the noble and dignified sentiments it never ceases to express; And if the beverage it contains is dangerous, it offers it in the most brilliant, purest crystal cup ever held by a poet’s or enchantress’s hand. Alongside Chatterton‘s drama, I see one that has yet to be done, and which I sketch only tremblingly, for others than myself may try to paint the divine model I think I glimpse, and I wouldn’t want a rough sketch to spoil its features for them. I imagine a man who has truly received from heaven the magnificent gift with which M. de Vigny has endowed his hero, a man who feels the word of fire rise to his lips at every moment, and who, by a fatality of situation or nature, cannot communicate to others the legitimate faith he himself has in the divinity of his spirit. Well, what will this unknown apostle of the holy religion of art do? will he ask his heart to sing hymns of despair and hatred? will he cast a look of disdain and wrath on humanity from the lonely peaks of his pride? finally, after a few days of bitter existence, will he summon death to give his outraged greatness the asylum that haughty pain and lavish despair demand? No, he’ll take on a more dignified and, above all, better role. Instead of being the source of his suffering, his genius will be the source of his consolation. Beneath the cold shroud of oblivion, his imagination will conceal a dazzling, fresh Tempé, dear to his heart, like the places where one feels that no eyes have penetrated. Place in this noble life an ardent and pure love like that which Chatterton in Kitty Bell, a sure and deep friendship, like the one he finds in the Quaker; put into it, too (for in any work modeled on human nature one does not reach the truth without leaving to evil the share it claims), put into it trials and sufferings, but trials firmly accepted, sufferings gloriously tamed, and you will have a drama with moving and simple action, and a triumphant and peaceful denouement. With the thinking I was talking about earlier, I see only two possible dramas, M. de Vigny’s drama and this one. Genius, insulted and misunderstood by men, must escape them on the wings of death, or, which seems to me a thousand times preferable, rise above them on its own wings. M. de Balzac has found a way to give a third denouement to the action we have indicated. He, too, wanted to create a man of genius bearing beneath his brow a thought unknown to all; but, after efforts in which none succeeded, struggles in which he was always defeated, his hero, instead of resigning himself or dying, of seeking refuge in the dark abysses of nothingness or the radiant depths of his soul, his hero extends one hand to the lost woman, another to the withered man, and, strengthened by these unworthy supports, rises to defy society. This is the last painting in the play, the one on which the canvas falls. As far as Quinola is concerned, M. de Balzac’s work is no more than Figaro, minus Beaumarchais’ wit and comic verve; as far as Fontanarès is concerned, Quinola’s master is Chatterton, minus M. de Vigny’s profound distinction and delicate, elevated sense. I won’t begin by reproaching Fontanarès for the bizarre domain that M. de Balzac has assigned him in the realm of genius; that will be the subject of a special review. Instead of dreaming of birdsong and women’s smiles, woodwinds and sea breezes, it dreams of pipes and steam, cogs and machines; in a word, instead of having received the poetic breath, it has received that of industry: so, I accept it as it is. I want to believe for a moment that the inspiration that produces beautiful verses and that which creates springs and crafts are equally the daughters of heaven; I grant Fontanarès a gift as divine, as sacred as the one he has received Chatterton The difference between M. de Vigny’s tendencies and those of M. de Balzac will only become clearer. Which characters does the author of Stello place alongside the great man who has been rejected, to help him cope with his pain? She’s a young woman who combines the tenderness of a mother with the purity of a saint, this adorable Kitty Bell, whom we picture like the virgins seen by Raphaël and the Laurence dreamed of by Jocelyn: A shadow on her forehead, hope in her heart, and children on her lap. He’s an old man with a compassionate and austere soul, this good and peaceful Quaker who betrays his knowledge of the miseries of this world only by the sadness of his smile and the mansuetude of his gaze. Which two people does the author of Vautrin give as supporters to the persecuted genius? A woman whose brocade bodice covers a courtesan’s heart, and a man whose rags would show an infamous mark to anyone who dared lift them. If M. de Vigny did not do society justice, when he placed only indifference or disdain for talent in the upper classes, at least he did not disregard the laws of human nature, since he made us guess the elevation of the mind by that of the heart. By relegating to the lowest and most degraded classes the only sympathies, the only help to be expected here below from those who carry a fruitful idea in their bosom, M. de Balzac has slandered human nature and society at the same time. The first of these slanders doesn’t need to be fought, as everyone has something in their conscience to do justice to it; the second is more dangerous, because it has often been uttered and sometimes accepted. No, there has never been a league formed against intelligence among those who have always made up the so-called aristocracy. When the author of Quinola’s Resources shows us genius insulted in palaces and only receiving in attics the noble, magnificent homage it demands, like religion the homage of faith, these are pictures of which no feature belongs to the real world; instead of hating and excluding each other, all superiorities seek and understand each other. If there are men in whom talent should encounter neither distrust nor jealousy, but on the contrary kindness and thoughtfulness, they are those who, sheltered from the great anxieties of need, tranquil over the small worries of vanity, have the brain free to understand, the heart free to love. One of the most charming writers of our language, if not of our country, the Prince de Ligne, expressed these ideas with his persuasive grace and lively playfulness; he did even better than translate them into words, he translated them into actions. So I remember a fleeting note, a detached page from his memoirs, in which he recounts a visit he made to Rousseau. With what amiable respect the great lord who had approached the Empress of the Russias and Frederick of Prussia approached the author of La Nouvelle Héloïse! I felt,” he says, “a sort of trembling when I opened his door. These poor courtier hearts have been blackened many a time; yet we can see that they, too, are capable of sincere admiration and naive enthusiasm. This Prince de Ligne, who bantered with such ease in circles presided over by crowned heads, and whom Louis XVI even once reproached for the rather free-spiritedness of his manners at the Trianon show, is now trembling as he enters a galetas; for this galetas (his own expressions come back to me), if it is the dwelling place of rats, is at the same time the sanctuary of genius. Since Rousseau’s name has found its way to our pen, how many more examples could we find in the life of this man, who, in terms of arrogance and superbness, would have yielded nothing to the proudest poets of today! Was it the watchmakers of Geneva or the Maréchal de Luxembourg who gave him support and protection? The angels who climbed the narrow stairs to her attic didn’t wear short petticoats and grisette crushes, but feathered hats and large baskets. In his Confessions, the chagrinous thinker from Geneva may well give malignant interpretations to the thoughtful curiosities and delicate attentions of which he was the object: they nonetheless show with what tender and gracious solicitude the noble, the elegant, the happy, reach out to talent, far from disregarding or proscribing it. In this country especially, instead of waging war on new ideas, those who were nevertheless threatened by them were the first to celebrate them. It was under the gilded vaults of the salons that this terrible philosophy of the 18th century, which has flown so high and so far, made the first test of its wings; white, slender hands were the first to applaud the flight that calloused hands then covered with their fearsome applause. Let M. de Balzac recall the very story of the writer whose last play proves that he was so deeply concerned. It wasn’t Quinola who slipped in to surprise Louis XVI with permission to perform Beaumarchais’ famous play. Figaro’s illustrious godparents, as Grimm’s correspondence names them, were the most important figures at court. The comte d’Artois protected La Folle Journée with all the enthusiastic ardor of a good and warm-hearted youth; M. de Vaudreuil had already lent the theater of his hotel to the proscribed comedy, and the queen wanted it to be performed at Trianon. So when we are shown the man of genius receiving only a tribute of complete and sincere devotion from the outcast, reduced to enlisting in the service of his thought the shameful resources and guilty tricks of a debased intelligence, it’s an image as false as it is immoral. The Prince de Ligne, moved before Rousseau like a schoolboy before the poet who inspired his first piece of verse, proves that the higher classes know the humblest and at the same time most glorious form of worship due to the divinity of intelligence. The Comte d’Artois protecting Beaumarchais proves that, far from shrinking with fear and disdain from enterprising and inventive minds, they are constantly ready to propagate, even at their peril, the boldest novelties. I’m convinced, then, that M. de Balzac is inflicting misery and shame on his great, unrecognized man, something that genius should never have to endure here on earth, unless chance has sometimes lodged it in the brain of a rascal; but I want to give him a moment’s truce on this subject, and come back to a reproach I mentioned earlier. When, instead of a prophet of art, he portrays an apostle of industry, does he seriously believe that the interest can be the same? Industry! It must have grown to colossal proportions in the eyes of the serial novelist for him to have judged it worthy of igniting in a man the same burning, sacred ardor, the same powerful, dramatic passion as poetry. Of course, I don’t want to attack it, which would lead me to the same declamatory platitudes as I defend it; but, for God’s sake, doesn’t it have enough of all the fields it invades? Should his thought, which already hovers over so many places, come to hover over the stage again? Is it said that there will no longer be a corner of the sky, in the regions of art as in others, that should not be obscured by the black swirls of steam? Instead of the simple, noble objects that are always to be found in the poet’s home, even when all that stands between him and the stars he sings of is the roof of an attic, instead of those dignified or charming things that, even in his misery, never cease to distinguish his dwelling, what do I know? the old sword of a father or the young portrait of a mistress, a humble pastel full of memories before which one has wept, or, what is even more beautiful, a painting by a great master before which one has hungered; in a word, instead of the touching garret, which resembles a bald forehead where a divine soul radiates, M. de Balzac shows us a hideous hovel that the eye wanders through without encountering anything to make one dream or smile. There are only wheels and long chimneys, all the ugly apparatus of a factory; and, what brings to the last degree the discomfort and repugnance we feel, we see in a corner this blackboard, this odious blackboard on which those who calculate squeak the chalk. It’s not the poet who makes his cottage sublime, but the fortune-seeker who debases his. Someone recently told me about the words of a Saint-Simonian who, ten years ago, exclaimed in a fit of prophetic enthusiasm ill justified by events: “We’ve been playing this old mass drama for eighteen hundred years; it’s time to replace it with another. I believe that M. de Balzac wanted to attempt in art the innovation that the man I was told about wanted to bring about in religion. The Saint-Simonian said to himself: “Can we tolerate a pulpit from which we speak to the people only of faith, charity and hope? The author of Quinola said to himself: Can we suffer a theater where it’s all about glory, love and poetry? And they both believed that there was a thought close to them, within their reach, in the very air they breathed, that would replace these empty and hollow thoughts, that of this industry with its gigantic works, its boundless ambition, whose efforts aspire to bind to its destinies those of our entire century. Need we point out the extravagance of these dreams? The glorification of industry through religious festivals or dramatic solemnities is monstrous and absurd. The bread that the priest of art and the priest of religion must show to the people, and raise above bowed brows, is not the bread that can be eaten, the bread of the body; it is the bread of the soul, the sacred bread, that which brings a God down into the bosom of the poet as into the heart of the Christian. Perhaps M. de Balzac doesn’t know which literature he’s getting closer to when he sets out to substitute industrial drama for heroic drama or love drama. By chance, in the curious archives of popular theater, we came across a large-scale play called Christophe le Suédois, which belongs to the same family as his. Like Fontanarès, this Christophe has made a discovery that must be very useful to the country’s fortunes and to his own. Traps, betrayals and obstacles of all kinds lie in its path. However, the boulevard poet felt obliged to his audience for a more moral denouement than that which concludes Les Ressources de Quinola. Merit triumphs by legitimate means, and the last act of Christophe le Suédois brings us to a halt in the ovation bestowed on genius by the gratitude of the people. The last shots of the theater show soldiers, flags, laurels and a white horse. It’s curious to see M. de Balzac seek his point of departure in the most elevated of the serious and comic scenes, and arrive by invincible tendencies at the places where the literary domain ends, in Christophe le Suédois. And if Quinola’s Resources, in taking from the melodrama of today its recent enthusiasms, had also taken from it some of its naïve moral traits, a much weakened tradition, though still alive, of the melodramas of the old days! But the thoughts on which M. de Balzac suspends the spectator’s mind at the end of his play are not of an edifying nature. Between the courtesan and the convict he has made the companions of his destiny, Fontanarès exclaims: “Now the future is mine; we’ll go to France!” Which, incidentally, struck me as a veritable epigram against our country. It is said that at a performance of Chatterton, one of those poor young men whose noble and painful madness the author of Stello extolled tried to kill himself after the last act had been played. If M. de Balzac’s drama retained its analogy with M. de Vigny’s in the denouement, if Fontanarès’s body rolled next to his broken machine, as Chatterton’s rolls next to his manuscripts half devoured by fire, then we might have seen the unrecognized suitors, the spurned lovers of mechanics, rush to draw inspiration for suicide from the Quinola Resources. The Odeon auditorium might have been bloodied by the death of some misunderstood inventor, coming, dagger in hand, to insult the society that refused him a patent. As it stands, M. de Balzac’s drama will make the unfortunate pursuers of fortune take advice that is far more harmful to others than to themselves; Fontanarès can communicate to them a very particular kind of exaltation that would make me not fear to leave a pistol within their reach, but to entrust them with my purse. I believe that the criticism of ideas is far more profitable than that of facts, and so I wanted to tackle only the ideas in M. de Balzac’s drama. If we wanted to get down to the details, we could address the Quinola’s resources But I’m inclined to agree with a man who recently expressed the opinion that scholarly criticism is as easy as enthusiastic, warm-hearted criticism. On the subject of Le Cid, M. Magnin drew from Corneille’s many anachronisms, which he noted with the indulgence of an artist and the certainty of a scholar, a conclusion which we believe to be entirely correct: that works of the imagination should not be subjected to the strict scrutiny of history. If Quinola had really reminded us of the Figaro he was so keen to resemble, we’d care little about the time and place in which M. de Balzac places his drama. Who ever thought of looking for Spaniards in Beaumarchais’ characters? So the fact that Fontanarès had mentioned Galileo’s name at a time when Galileo was yet to be born, and that mistakes in dates, countries and costumes could have been made at any moment, would have been nothing to a viewer happily occupied by a painting of situations and characters portrayed with verve and truth. If some have criticized M. de Balzac for being an inaccurate historian of the 16th century, it’s because, fortunately for them, they didn’t understand that he wanted to be the historian of our times. Now let’s talk about style. In form and substance, Visit Quinola’s resources offer two distinct elements: the uninhibited imitation of a good, firm manner whose secret is lost every day, and the far too skilful imitation, on the contrary, of the melodramatic, bloated manner of which we have so many examples before our eyes. It’s this second element that dominates. The character who gives the play its name, Quinola, fades away near Fontanarès. It had to be this way. When M. de Balzac has Quinola speak, the man who should have a quick repartee, a clean, concise sentence, he can’t find a word in his usual language, and he’s forced to cut short his reminiscences of Lesage or Beaumarchais ; But when he makes Fontanarès speak, the man to whom the ambitious tirade belongs, the declamatory and noisy phrase, then all the words of the disordered and violent language that he hears spoken every day, that he himself has spoken so often, present themselves in droves to his memory; he no longer has any reason to stop; long, hurried periods follow the breathless repose of furious exclamations; at last, nineteenth-century declamation reigns and triumphs unimpeded. Now, this declamation doesn’t even have the college correctness of the century that preceded us. The contemporaries of Jean-Jacques and Diderot also had their sonorous, empty language, their big words, their outrageous metaphors, in short, all the proud, vulgar rhetoric that the literature of every age is obliged to endure ; But the bad style of the eighteenth century was preferable to the bad style of the present, in that it retained certain pretensions to purity, whereas ours, among the laws it tramples underfoot, puts those of grammar in first place, as is only too well proven by the vicious constructions, obscure turns and improper locutions that abound in Quinola Resources. What unites not only the declaimers of the eighteenth century with those of our own, but the declaimers of all times, is the same lack of energy that they vainly try to conceal under a factitious elevation. In the places where we think we can feel some impetus, M. de Balzac’s play reminds me of something Jean-Paul Richter says about the big-souled, big-sentence writers of his time, in the words of Schoppe, one of Titan’s characters: “The style of these people,” says Schoppe, “always reminds me of the tail of an English horse; if it rises into the air, it’s because the nerve has been cut. Of style and thought, of form and content, and of the careful examination of Quinola’s resourcesIn our opinion, we must draw the conclusion that M. de Balzac has singularly compromised his talent by taking it down the wrong roads; but that, had he kept it intact and complete, this talent was not destined to appear in dramatic works. We’ve all spent hours in the galleries of the Louvre, contemplating some of those marvellous interiors by Van-Ostade, Metzu or Gérard Dow, in which our imagination penetrates, settles and amuses itself; M. de Balzac sometimes knew how to give his novels the kind of mysterious appeal that these paintings present. A few pages of the Maison Claës have given us that strange, intimate pleasure we feel when we suspend our thoughts on the carvings of the gleaming woodwork, the rosettes of the soft carpets, the armchairs, andirons, torches, in short, the thousand familiar objects that Flemish paintbrushes know how to render with the power of truth, yet imbue them with a fantastic, dreamy charm. In some of the small frames I’m remembering at the moment, a half-open window in the background reveals a Belgian or Dutch sky through hop-lined trellises. Instead of this pale light, let us imagine an Italian sun suddenly pouring its fiery glow into this interior, where half-darkness is part of the prestige; what will become of the sweet dreams that hid for us in the depths of this alcove, in the dark folds of this hanging, under the doorframe of this fireplace? The big day will put them to flight, and with them will go all our pleasure. Well, the world that M. de Balzac has been given the gift of understanding and reproducing is the same as that of these bourgeois paintings, and it can find in the novel the veiled hues it needs; cast on this world the light of the chandelier, the brightness of the banisters, all the brilliance of the stage, and it will lose its poetry. The imagination that gave us Eugénie Grandet can only blossom in the shade of a secluded, solitary life; she was not even born to pick, like the two charming imaginations we spoke of recently, that of the author of Fa dièse and that of the author of Reisebilder, the poppies of golden wheat, the pink bells of meadows; The flowers she seeks out with attentive curiosity, that she contemplates with tenderness, are those pale, etiolated flowers that, in the damp, deserted courtyards of large provincial houses, grow between the cracks in the paving stones and the crevices in the walls. I know that writers of prose and verse, drama and novels, readily believe that the form they first adopted is exalted by bias, in order to deny them the form they last chose. There’s an old saying with which all novelists who have suffered setbacks on the stage have consoled their self-esteem: “At my first novel, they’ll say good things about my drama.” Perhaps M. de Balzac repeated it to himself. I don’t think, however, that the Memoirs of Two Young Brides inspired anyone to panegyric Vautrin. It’s undeniable, and recent examples bear witness to this, that there are certain minds which, after having taken flight in the novel with full vigor, stoop and crawl on the stage. But what is necessary at the moment is to protest, and to protest energetically, against this thought, so quick to present itself to authors, that we want to fight their works with their works, and to praise alternately, to discourage them, their latest novel at the expense of their latest drama, or their latest drama at the expense of their latest novel. My God, drama and novels, we wish we could praise everything. I can’t imagine what literary hatred could feed on today. The character of our times is a skepticism without mockery that is only too willing to be seduced, a benevolent curiosity that gives everything its share of interest and attention. For my part, I declare that the humblest work of art inspires in me a kind of religious feeling and true love, when it bears the imprint of conscientious work and painstaking study; I would reproach myself as a crime for speaking of it with levity or contempt. I believe that the penny by which the obscure artist adds to the ever-growing treasury of the products of human intelligence is as sacred as the penny of the poor. But the more this religion of art is dear to me and seems to me an indispensable belief, the more I resent those who outrage it when they could be serving it. The more sincere my tenderness and deep respect for the noble unframed canvas that reveals to me the long and glorious efforts of a persevering will, the more repulsion I feel for the lavishly framed painting where I recognize the hasty touch of a venal brush. So, if there is not today in our criticism a greater share of praise that compensates for or softens the blame, it is because the work we had to talk about, like almost all those now passing before our eyes, reveals habits and tendencies that are neither the habits nor the tendencies of an artist. We do not believe that M. de Balzac is destined for a dramatic career. Well then, to give us the lie, let him shut himself up in his study with a serious thought, let him abandon himself in contemplation to the divine outpourings and purifying ardors of that immortal prayer we call work, and then, in the beautiful words of M. de Vigny, all shuddering from the suffering his work will have caused him, let him come and submit it to the public. de Vigny, quivering with the suffering his work will have caused him, let him submit it to the public: for our part, we promise him, if not unreserved approval and unexamined enthusiasm, at least deep and ardent sympathy. Once again, what drives us most against M. de Balzac’s comedy is the inspiration that produced it, the order of feelings and ideas it expresses. There have always been two kinds of drama, the drama of the heart and the drama of facts, the one based on great passion and the one based on heroic action. In our time, a third has emerged, which, for want of a better name, I’ll call social drama. To write the first two, you’d need a poet’s heart and a moralist’s mind, a politician’s intelligence and a historian’s sense; to write the last, in addition to the qualities of poet, historian, moralist and politician, you’d need the certain judgment and prophetic sagacity of a legislator. But if it is essential to find in social drama the trace of all these merits for it to be entitled to admiration, it is sufficient, for it to be entitled to esteem, that we discover in it a disinterested purpose and a sincere conviction. I don’t see any conviction in M. de Balzac’s work, and if there is a goal, it’s certainly not a disinterested one. When we recall the genuine lyricism and dark, inspired tone with which the author of Contes drolatiques has often lamented the fact that all his literary activity failed to earn him millions, five major acts devoted entirely to the grief of an industrialist whose steam engines failed to make him a fortune make unfortunate comparisons. What M. de Vigny demanded for the soldiers of thought in the noble and eloquent plea he called Chatterton, is what the generals of our armies once demanded for those they led into battle: bread and glory. What M. de Balzac seems to be asking for, I leave it to guess in whose name, is fame and money. The Resources of Quinola and Chatterton, these two plays containing two such different requests, represent the two literatures that have long been in each other’s presence. M. de Balzac, in a famous letter that we have not forgotten, once compared the world of writers to the military world, assigning himself the dignity of marshal. Couldn’t we compare it to the maritime world and say: There are two motives for facing the perils of the sea, the desire to enrich oneself and the desire to serve one’s country; in a word, there are two navies, the royal navy and the merchant navy. Those who sign up for the former sail the ocean for the rest of their lives, earning a pair of epaulettes that entitle them to respect wherever they go, and a pension that barely sustains them; those who sign up for the latter are sustained on each crossing by the hope of enjoying the riches they’ve acquired as soon as they touch port. The noble ships that carry the world’s interest, belong to us all; the bullets that tear their flag, the cannonballs that shatter their masts, they receive for our cause: if they triumph, it’s universal joy; if they succumb, it’s public mourning. The ships that carry the others are of interest to those who assemble them, and above all to those who equip them. If storms or privateers strike, it’s mourning for a few families and for a trading house. Well, there’s a literature that responds to the state’s navy, which suffers and fights for all; we welcome the bold vessels it launches. There is a merchant literature that defies winds and reefs; whether its galleons reach port or are shipwrecked is of interest only to the shipowner who chartered them. So once we would have anxiously awaited the news of Chatterton ‘s success or failure; now we worry very little about the success or failure of Quinola Resources. G. de Molènes. Interview in : Wikisource, the free library. “Les ressources de Quinola de M. de Balzac – Gaschon de Molènes, Revue des Deux Mondes – 4ème série, tome 30, 1842” ….the “current” criticism of the serial novel in its full development phase, within the Revue des Deux Mondes, the most important political and literary review of the time. The overall tone is rather unfavorable. The soap opera is accused of transforming art into an industry, the art object into a mass-produced object, indefinitely reproducible, lacking in originality and artistic perfection, and subject to commercial evaluation. In addition to this criticism of practice, there’s an internal critique of the works, which always points out the same flaws: sloppy style, due to the speed of the writing, unnecessary stretching of the action, conventional characters with no psychological verisimilitude. Added to this are the criticisms that would later be levelled at “realist” works: a taste for “baseness” and “vice”, and a lack of moral expression. Nonetheless, it’s impossible to avoid the fact that the soap opera is a crowd-pleaser. We’ll be looking for causes in the storytelling imagination and sense of dramatic action of the novelists concerned. Marguerite-Louise Chardon, then Madame Virginie Ancelot, novelist, playwright and painter (1792-1875), also ran a salon frequented by all the celebrities of the day. She recounts her salon years in Un salon de Paris, 18241864 (1865). He was a prominent, and often derided, figure in the Parisian “intelligentsia”. Balzac’s La Vieille Fille was the first novel to appear in a political daily newspaper, La Presse, from October 23 to November 4, 1836, in the “Variétés” section.) Balzac had been widely criticized for the indecency and immorality of his paintings. Balzac’s Mémoires de deux jeunes mariées was serialized in La Presse from November 16, 1841 to January 15, 1842. It was not published in bookshops (by Souverain) until March1, 1843. Based on Lise Dumasy’s book “La querelle du roman-feuilleton: littérature, presse et politique, un débat…”.

The Story Fontanarès, has perfected a discovery that must be of great benefit to Spain’s fortunes and to his own. The idea is to sail a ship without oars or sails against the wind and the tide. This news excited the king, who made one of the ships in his fleet available so that Fontanares could experiment with his invention. Traps, betrayals and obstacles of all kinds lie in his path, not to mention the greed of certain people who would like to make his invention their own.

Source : Préface/analyse tirée de Wikipedia

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