Alphonse Daudet.

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LrR-RY ^


JUN 1 9 1973

This edition is limited to One Thousand
Copies y of which this is

No 1 ^ \.

A Charming Folly, all in pink and silver and satin

AND 31 E 31 O I R S O E


P R /' /: .V (• J L E 1) I T I N




Copyright, 1900,
By Little, Brown, and Company.

All rights reserved.

John Wilson and Son, Cambridge, U.S.A.


Towards the end of 1868^ Daudet first saw him
— a shivering, round-shouldered, pathetic figure,
whose ill-fitting coat covered but scantily the nar-
row chest racked by an ominous cough. In Paris,
where the sight of wretchedness and want and
disease is too familiar to arrest even a momentary
attention, such a figure as this might have passed
on unnoticed, lost in that great stream of human
life that overflows the pavements of the mighty
city. Clothed in picturesque rags, it might per-
haps have served some artist in search of a model,
but the novelist could scarcely have singled out so
familiar a figure to be the hero of a novel. Had
Daudet himself first met this unfortunate in the
streets of Paris, it is doubtful whether Jack would
have been written at all.

But it was at Champrosay they met, Champro-
say which plays no small part in Daudet's life, and
is mentioned lovingly in connection with his labors.
To what chance they owed their acquaintance we
do not know, but for a time they were neighbors.
We remember with what tireless patience that

1 Jack was first published in 1876.

vi Introductio7t,

" double " of Daudet's attached itself to some
obscure existence, following it up and down, pene-
trating its joys and sorrows, abstracting its secret.
Like George Eliot, like Dickens, he delighted in
being the historian of the humble.

He has told us elsewhere the history of Little
VVhat's-His-Name. Quite another story — that of
his young companion, told to him in the forest of
Senart, afterwards retold to the world as Daudet
alone could tell it — the story of Jack.

His real name we do not know, for he had none
— this is the story of little No-name, the mere fly-
blow of chance, born of a father whose name even
was not known — of a mother known only too well,
an origin clouded with doubt and shame.

The jealous caprice of a lover of this woman had
sentenced him to a life of physical labor for which
he was unfitted ; he had broken down under the
strain, and, when Daudet first met him, had been
sent to the country to rest for a while, and regain
health. Even there he was pursued by thoughts
of his mother, and when his exile grew unendura-
ble, he would set out afoot, and walk the six leagues
that separated him from her, for he adored this

A portion of his childhood had been spent in a
v^Q.dX'Csxy pcnsio7inat at Auteuil, and that early edu-
cation, though it had not lasted long, had left an
influence upon his character, and had given him
tastes out of keeping with the squalid surroundings
of his life. He loved to read, and as the doctor

Introduction. vii

had forbidden all manual labor he spent long days
devouring Daudet's books, keeping him silent
company while he worked. Looking out upon
the green fields, the peaceful river, he would say :
" I can understand better when I am here."

Instinctively he appropriated the best books
had to give him, making it his own. Daudet led
him to talk of them, of his past, and of the factory
life he had led. Certain incidents of factory life
at Indret described later in Jack are merely the
souvenirs of those apprentice days.

Chance, which had brought the two together,
soon separated them, the writer returning to Paris,
" Jack " finding work upon the Lyons railroad.
Daudet saw him only at rare intervals, and each
time he appeared thinner, weaker, more despairing,
crushed beneath the hopelessness of his struggle,
wearied with a task that left every higher faculty
unemployed. Yet he would not leave his work,
fearing to pain and disappoint his mother, and no
one, himself least of all, realized how critical his
condition really was.

So months passed. One day, Daudet tells us,
there arrived a little note, pathetic in its brevity,
written in a tremulous hand : " Sick at La Charite,
Salle de Saint Jean de Dieu." There the writer
found him, lying upon a stretcher, there being no
bed for him. As much, perhaps, to divert him
from his own suffering and wretchedness as for
any other reason, Daudet asks him to write his
impressions of the life about him. A little later

vi i i Introductio7i.

these articles were published ; picture the joy of
little No-name upon receiving the few louis his
work brought him, the first money he had earned
with his pen !

He left the hospital, but not fully recovered.
Recalling how much he himself had been bene-
fited by an utter change of scene and climate,
Daudet wrote to Algiers, and obtained for his
protege a minor position to which very slight
duties and a salary of fifteen hundred francs were
attached. Filled with gratitude and joy, eagerly
planning the writing of new articles, the boy took
leave of Daudet and his wife, never to meet them

In Algiers a friend of Daudet's opened his doors
wide to the young exile. His health did not mend
rapidl)', but the freedom of his new life was a joy
and inspiration. Writing to Daudet at this time of
all he felt, he says, naively : " It seems to me as if
I were in Heaven ! "

Then came the Days of the Siege, filled with
events of such sad and ever-memorable signifi-
cance. Daudet was not the mere passive specta-
tor of these events. He had almost forgotten his
young charge, when a letter from Jack's physi-
cian brought a painful reminder of his protege's
existence. " Jack " was very ill, the letter stated,
and begged for some news of his mother.

To the mother also an appeal was sent, but no

" Jack " died in the hospital at Algiers after a

l7ttrodtictio7i. ix

long and agonizing illness. He had refused to
allow Daudet's friend to care for him in the latter's
home, fearing to become a burden, and realizing
that this was indeed his last illness. At the last,
speaking to this friend of Daudet, he said : " Tell
him now that I am leaving life, I regret most of
all to leave him and his dear wife."

Such, in brief, are the meagre details of the life
of the real Jack, as narrated by Daudet himself,
who knew him best. A single paragraph of a
daily newspaper might almost tell the story which
later Daudet chose to amplify, modifying the cir-
cumstances but slightly in writing the longest
work that has come from his pen. That life in
itself seems scarcely more than a little obscure
page, blotted and half obliterated by human tears,
merely a stray leaflet, detached from the great
Book of human history. For a time it must have
seemed to Daudet merely that — something too
personal, too painful to talk about or write about.

But one day he finds himself telling this story to
a friend, Gustave Droz. Perhaps something in the
simplicity, the sincerity with which the bare details
were told, may have touched the friend, for he
suggested that Daudet tell to the world the story
of Jack.

Did Daudet really need this suggestion? Had
not Jack's story been shaping itself unconsciously
in his brain from that day when he first met him?
Had not his " double " been taking notes from the
very moment of their meeting? Though imagina*

X Introdtictio7t.

tion plays so large a part in his work, he first lived
the events that later took literary shape in his

It is characteristic of Daudet that he suddenly
becomes so possessed with the idea of Jack,
that to follow the latter's fortunes he flings aside
the work at which he had been so busily engaged.
And what is the book he lays aside, with fine dis-
regard of consequences? The most brilliant per-
haps of all his novels — the Parisian's Vanity Fair
— The Nabob! Even De Mora's portrait must
wait while he plunges headlong, heart and soul,
into the story of Jack !

What is the quality of qualities obvious even to
the most superficial reader of Jack ? Note the
remorseless subtlety of perception, the ironic
delicacy of touch with which De Mora's portrait is
painted, neither sparing nor extenuating — that
" double " of Daudet's taking notes even in the
chamber which Death has entered before him.

Contrast such portrayal of character with the
story of Jack. The latter is a labor of love.
Daudet really loves this Jack whose history he
tells, and cannot permit his reader to lose sight of
the fact even for a moment. When he presents to
you Ida's Jack (with a K,) dressed grotesquely a
Vanglaise, bare-legged and shivering, his lank limbs
betraying all the awkwardness of growing youth in
revolt, he refers to the boy in terms of endearment.
He wishes that every one should love as he loves
" ce cherpetit.*^ Daudet the loving and the lovable

httroduction. xi

betrays himself in every page that chronicles the
life of his hero. These interpolations are so much
a part of the narrative that they hardly interrupt
it, though they do not aid it. He does not, like
one of his English brothers, interpolate a page of
dissertation upon the vanity of human life, nor, like
another of our English novelists, pause in the nar-
rative to preach a sermon. It is never as preacher
or moralist that Daudet peers over your shoulder.
But the quality that reveals itself in his work is
none the less a purely personal one ; he loves this
humble being, whose biographer he is, so intensely
that he must identify himself with each mood of
the boy. — He follows him everywhere, penetrating
every experience of Jack's, every phase of feeling,
with that subtle clairvoyance which makes the
very soul of things transparent to him at times.
He identifies himself with the life of childhood, all
its miracle and mystery; no real or imaginary
terror that exists in a child's mind but Daudet
seeks to fathom it. A child's homesickness and
loneliness and dread of the darkness its fancy
peoples with vague shapes, how real they are !
That journey by night from Paris to ifitiolles, is it
Jack's or his own? Hard to say, so completely
Daudet merges his own personality in that of the
child. This personal quality, often accompanied
by an almost feminine sensibility, is a dangerous
gift, but here it produced pictures most vivid and

Daudet's theories were widely at variance

xii Introduction.

with those of the writer to whom he dedicated
fack; the doctrine of "impersonality" had no
charm for him, was foreign to his temperament,
and he wisely realized this. Yet, however he
differed from his friends in theory, his own method
of work led him to be as ardent a realist as any
one of these. But what realism ! Realism that
has filtered through the imagination, leaving the
dregs behind so that the bright, limpid resultant is
a far different thing from the realism of Zola — not
of the earth earthy — rather, a jewel darting lam-
bent fires, the very crystallization of Daudet's
thought and feeling.

With painful persistence he follows Jack to the
final scene of his martyrdom, the slave of a sort of
obsession that will not permit him to rest so long
as there remains the least small island of Jack's
personality unexplored. His life in the forge,
aboard the " Cydnus," in the Eyssendeck factory,
his degradation and effacement, the final en-
franchisement and new birth of his soul, Daudet's
" double" has seen it all, and is not less assiduous
than Zola himself in his pilgrimages to every
remote nook that may throw light upon the sub-
ject, yet his narrative never becomes the mere
itinerary of scenes and events.

" Un livre de pitii, de colere, et d'ironie," says
Daudet of Jack in this dedication to Gustave
Flaubert, and that Flaubert found somewhat too
much of these qualities \njack\s, gathered from his
laconic criticism, hardly the words of one who

Introduction. xiii

stands sponsor for the work of a contemporary, a
criticism we should never have known, perhaps,
save for the confession of Daudct himself, given
with that nafve candor which is one of the many
delightful qualities of Trente Ans de Paris,
Neither can the author of Jack resist telling us
that George Sand was so moved upon ending the
book that for three days she was unable to resume
work, or write a single line !

What has been the popular verdict? The
longest, the most rapidly written of Daudet's
novels, a labor of love, had no such reception as
that which greeted Fromont and Risler, The
Nabob, Tartarin, and other of Daudet's works. He
inferred that its length was the cause of this colder
reception. May there not be other reasons? Too
much truth, like too little learning, may sometimes
prove a dangerous gift for its possessor. To strip
the mask from cant and vice and pretentious folly,
to show these things in their least alluring light is
hardly the way to achieve an overwhelming popu-
lar success ; a " book of pity, of anger, and of
irony," is an uncertain power with which to con-
jure the multitudes. Jack can never appeal to the
lovers of pleasing fiction. It is a serious, perhaps
too sombre, study of the life and morals of a great
modern Cosmopolis where vice and virtue jostle
each other, flourish side by side. It probes social
wounds and evils, unveils shams, punctures with
the fine pen-pricks of its irony foibles and painted
bubbles of folly. Its satire is juster, more far-

xiv Introduction,

reaching and impersonal than that of the Immortal.
The Academic few could never have been greatly
disturbed by the attack upon their venerable
Academy, but Philistinism, dilettanteism, and in-
deed the whole tedious, dismal and deadly tribe of
isms may well take umbrage 2Xjack, for Tartarin's
creator has here a more Herculean labor than that
of helping Tartarin to hunt lions; he is hunting
down the ass in the lion's skin, ever a thankless
task, more quixotic even than that of pummelling
windmills. Yet he does it in good faith, strikes
again and again at vacancy, like Cyrano crying to
Hypocrisy and Compromise and Prejudice, to
"bloated and pompous silliness" — to platitudes
of every sort: "Take this! and this!"

Jack is scarcely a novel in the strict sense of the
word, rather a biography around which is woven
a series of social and satiric studies, of pictures
from life. Invention plays but a minor part in the
work ; Daudet did not have to go in search of
types or of scenes or of events. He had merely
to remember, to draw upon those mental note-
books filled to overflowing with observations and
suggestions, notes jotted down without attempt at
classification, hid away in compartments whose
labels even were undecipherable to any but him-
self, but of which he had the key, entering at
will, appropriating, never at random, just what he
needed at the right moment.

But woe to the lesser writer who should attempt
to imitate Daudet's method ! The most curious

Introduction. xv

archives are of value only in the hands of the few.
Facts have no real significance of themselves,
though the least detail has a value for the ro-
mancer who knows how to use it rightly. The
finer the tool, the greater must be the skill of the
workman who handles it. Though Daudet's notes
were copious, he instinctively fixed upon those
details that were of real significance, and the
slightest detail in his hands sometimes becomes
the flashlight in which a whole personality stands

The characters he has painted in Jack, however
familiar or commonplace, however grotesque, are
never mere caricatures. They exist. They have
always existed ; in a certain sense they are typical.
Since Jack is a failure, it is natural that the Failures
themselves should play no small part in the history.
This is conspicuously the Book of Failures, and
they bear the same relation to the main theme
that the Greek Chorus sustains to the Tragedy.
What a formidable array of them ! Failures of art,
of science, of literature ! (We have in English
no word quite flexible, ironic, delicate enough to
suggest to our ears all that is conveyed to a
Frenchman's sense in the term tm Rati. It quivers
with suppressed irony. It may characterize any-
thing spoilt, lost, abortive, any of Life's numerous
miscarriages or misfits.) What a host of these
Ratis wander through the pages oi Jack ! — all
Bohemia is for a time depopulated. Here are the
Chauvins, the Delobelles, the Micawbers of destiny,

xvi hitroductio^t.

a whole wretched race of human beings nursing in
their dazed brains gigantic but abortive schemes
for destroying law and order, for reconstructing a
howling primeval Chaos, and turning the world
topsy-turvy! Here is the doctor without a di-
ploma — the reviewer without a review, the school-
mistress without a school, the poet without a
publisher, the mighty voiced opera singer who is
compelled to sing secondary roles only because of
a grudge the manager bears him ! Then the lesser
Failures — the workman who never works, but is
never seen without his hammer and carpenter's
apron, insignia of labor. There is the man who is
nothing of himself, but is Somebody's Nephew;
there is the man who never says anything, but has
achieved a local reputation because he has read
Proudhon. Impossible even to enumerate them

Poor, half-starved, shabby, often disreputable,
ready to spring up from every pavement of Paris to
follow a funeral or some function less sombre, they
trudge bravely from one end of Paris to the other,
never quite so hopeless as they seem, since their
eyes are still blinded by the golden scales of Chi-
maera, and they can still view life through the rose-
tinted mists of illusion. Happy Failures ! One
confesses, after all is said, to a sneaking fondness
for them, and suspects that for once Daudet's irony
overshot the mark, and that they are neither as
formidable nor as ridiculous as they seem, even
though they are not sleek and well-fed, pious and

Introduction. xvii

proper, and at times, like the Son of Man, have
not where to lay their heads. Failure, like success,
judged by ultimate standards, is merely a relative

In strong contrast to these is the simple char-
acter of the unworldly old doctor and his grand-
daughter. The episode of Zenaide and her briga-
dier, whom Daudet transports bodily, name and all,
to the pages of his novel, forms a charming idyll,
all the more refreshing because of the contrast it
presents to the sombre drama enacted before the
hearth of old Father Roudic, reminding one in the
simplicity and pathos of its denouement of those
final chapters which make Fromont and Risler so

Among the typical characters oijack, two stand
in bolder relief than the rest ; the subtlest, most
delicate touches of his irony Daudet has reserved
for Ida de Barancy, soi-disant comtesse, and her
Vicomte. This unique pair will live while French
literature lasts as the hero and heroine of the most
respectable liaison that has ever graced the pages
of a French novel ! The pair do not make their
only appearance in these pages. Readers of
Artists' Wives will remember the poet with the
light gloves and the Olympian brow, the curled,
pommaded, perfumed H^gant whose touching line :

" For I believe in Love as I believe in God,"

isthe enticing bait which tempts the little bourgeoise
to nibble. In that sketch, however, the heroine

xviii Introductio7u

wearies even of a poet who wears light gloves and
believes in love as he believes in God ! and after
a season returns to her legitimate protector, a
wiser if not a better woman. But in the " book of
irony" Daudet handles the theme with a finer
sense of the ludicrous, and binds this pair together
for life with chains forged by imbecility on the
one hand and egotism on the other. The exe-
cutioner and his victim, each is necessary for the

The Vicomte renames his countess Charlotte, in
memory of Goethe's Charlotte — (doubtless, too,
he had discovered a strong resemblance between
himself and Goethe). Sacred memory of Char-
lotte von Stein ! What had that illustrious, highly
accomplished and deeply intellectual Lady of
Weimar in common with this vulgar, inane bit of
French frailty that he should have named it for
her? But the amenities of literature are many.
Madame von Stein was a German, and Daudet
never forgave the Germans for entering Paris !

Even the Vicomte himself seems to realize at
times that this name of Charlotte was strikingly
inappropriate for his slave — for he shortens it to
Lolotte (which is also French for " frailty ").

Amaury d'Argenton is not a special product of
French life and literature, he is rather that relentless
ego which masquerades under many disguises, but
remains the type of the everlasting poseur. Hardly
as subtle a creature as the Egoist of George Mere-
dith, for the machinery which sets the puppet in

Introductio7i. xix

motion is not at all complex, and he is quite
transparent to all save himself and his countess.

The Failures naturally revolve around Amaury,
his faithful satellites, for he is the most stupen-
dous failure of them all. Does their homage
and his reception of it sound exaggerated to the
reader? Let him read that delicious paper of
Rod's, Hugo et Nos Contemporaiiis, where the
reception of an ode of the poet is touchingly
described :

" How characterize such a poem by such medi-
ocre words as ' admirable,' 'superb,' ' marvellous ' ?
— Impossible !

" And so there is a silence of some moments,
then the inner worshippers approach. They kiss
his hands. They raise their eyes to Heaven. To
the amazement of some of the uninitiated, this
word echoes through the salon :

" ' Cathedral ! '

" Another orator exclaims :

" ' Gothic arch ! '

" Still a third, glancing around him:

" ' Egyptian Pyramid ! ' "

Such the amenities of a French salon. Verily,
it is not possible to exaggerate human nature.

Perhaps no one of Daudet's characters shows
more of the method and motive of what he
wrought than Ida de Barancy. How is her per-
sonality revealed ? By one of those slight touches
which lays bare the inmost nature of the woman.

" Par un K, monsieur le superieur, par un K.

XX Introduction.

Le nom s'ecrit et se prononce ^ I'anglaise, comme
ceci, Djack."

Thus she introduces herself. Her child's real
name and future are matters of supreme indiffer-
ence to her, but that his name is spelt a ranglaise,
with a K, is a matter of real moment !

With all her inanities, her amiable smile, her
shallowness, this voluble, volatile creature is a very
typical bit of femininity.

Daudet's delineation of the Modern Woman has
gone deeper than the mere surface. His types are
various, but each one adds something to our knowl-
edge of that complex, constantly varying, many-
sided problem. Except George Meredith and
Balzac, no modern novelist, perhaps, has handled
this topic more skilfully, or with greater variety.
He has shown us in Claire Fromont the dignity
of wifehood. He has shown in Desir^e how love
could transfigure the little workgirl — a nature
so pure and tender and faithful that it cannot con-
ceive of evil or wrong, and perishes of very sor-
row when the bitter knowledge is rudely thrust
upon it. He has pictured in Fr6derique, the noblest
perhaps of all his creations, the queen struggling
with the woman, the mother for supremacy —
the mother, the woman finally conquering the
queen. Very real women, all of these. As he has
painted virtue he has not hesitated to paint vice —
but stripped of every last vestige of ornament
Side by side with Desiree is Sidonie, coldly vicious
to the core, to whom vice is merely a means of

Introduction. xxi

attaining an end, and that end the gratification
of a nature so cruel and sordid and false that it
might have been transparent even to so ingenuous
a nature as Risler's.

In Sappho another type, the woman frankly,
openly, brutally corrupt, because it is the law and
necessity of her being.

In Ida still another type — the creature of
chance and impulse, to whom vice is quite as
much an accident as virtue. Her bird-like brain
is incapable of understanding the nature of either.
There is neither motive nor premeditation in the
evil she does, no consciousness of wrong — yet
in spite of her amiable smile, she is far more
terrible than Sidonie or Sappho — this mother

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