PDF Edmond de Goncourt ä PDF Pages from the Goncourt Journals MOBI ¶ the Goncourt ä freepe.co

No evocation of Parisian life in the second half of the nineteenth century can match that found in the journals of the brothers GoncourtThe journal of the brothers Edmond and Jules de Goncourt is one of the masterpieces of nineteenth century French literature a work that in its richness of color variety and seemingly casual perfection bears comparison with the great paintings of their friends and contemporaries the ImpressionistsBorn nearly ten years apart into a French aristocratic family the two brothers formed an extraordinarily productive and enduring literary partnership collaborating on novels criticism and plays that pioneered the new aesthetic of naturalism But the brothers’ talents found their most memorable outlet in their journal which is at once a chronicle of an era an intimate glimpse into their lives and the purest expression of a nascent modern sensibility preoccupied with sex and art celebrity and self exposure The Goncourts visit slums brothels balls department stores and imperial receptions they argue over art and politics and trade merciless gossip with and about Hugo Baudelaire Degas Flaubert Zola Rodin and many others And in 1871 Edmond maintains a vigil as his brother dies a slow and agonizing death from syphilis recording every detail in the journal that he would continue to maintain alone for another two decades


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    Hands down the most entertaining book I've read all year You need this in your life if you have any interest at all in French literature the life of the mind the creative process or Gallic bitching on a monumental scale Especially the last oneEvery page and I mean every page of this book contains one or of the following1 A perfectly polished aphorism2 An astonishing anecdote about a famous writer or painter or member of royalty3 A worm's eye view of some major historical event4 A jaw dropping insight into the ubiquity of nineteenth century misogynyor all four The nature of the Goncourts' social circle means that even the most Twitter like entry of daily banality becomes interesting ‘A ring at the door It was Flaubert’ but to the point there is so much here of the real life that never found its way into the fiction of the time Reading this feels like finally finding out what all those characters in nineteenth century novels with their contrived misunderstandings and drawing room spats were really thinking about – the salacious concerns that lie behind all the printable novelistic metaphors When the Goncourts and their famous friends get together for a chat instead of just talking about who batted their eyelashes at whom last night they are likely to wax lyrical aboutthe strange and unique beauty of the face of any woman – even the commonest whore – who reaches her climax the indefinable look which comes into her eyes the delicate character which her features take on the angelic almost sacred expression which one sees on the faces of the dying and which suddenly appears on hers at the moment of the little death la singulière et originale beauté du visage de toute femme qui jouit —même chez la dernière gadoue — de ce je ne sais quoi qui vient à ses yeux de cet affiné que prennent les lignes de sa figure de l'angélique qui y monte du caractère presque sacré que revêt le visage des mourants qui s'y voit soudain sous l'apparence de la « petite mort »An idea expressed in almost identical terms incidentally than 150 years later in Nicholson Baker's The Fermata Or about their aversion to the ‘oriental practice’ of women shaving their pubic hair‘It must look like a priest's chin’ said Saint VictorIt is all amazing stuff The Goncourts are alert to the best gossip the most entertaining and revealing anecdotes their keen sense that they are underappreciated geniuses drives a lot of their observations of the people around them who are as they see it getting the success that they the Goncourts deserve This is lucky for us because it keeps them deeply interested in the artists around them to the very endThe most prominent of these is Zola who first pops up in the journals as an unknown fan His prodigious work ethic and knack for publicity soon means that he is getting all the glory and all the money of being the leader of the new ‘Naturalist’ movement The Goncourts reckon not without some reason that he lifted most of his best ideas from them and they duly note down all the examples they can find But they're impressed despite themselves at how good he is with the press as Zola cheerfully confesses‘I have a certain taste for charlatanismI consider the word Naturalism as ridiculous as you do but I shall go on repeating it over and over again because you have to give new things new names for the public to think that they are new’The attitude of all concerned towards women is shocking especially in the early years Edmond does mature quite a lot towards the end benefitting from a close and gossipy friendship with Princess Mathilde Bonaparte that was clearly very important to him The women that get discussed tend to be gaupes ‘trollops’ gueuses ‘sluts’ or gadoues ‘whores’ sometimes translator Robert Baldick even renders filles ‘girls’ as ‘tarts’ which given the tone is not unreasonable The brothers confess somewhere that neither of them has really been in love for than a few days at a time and their deepest emotion is always reserved for each other Edmond's description of his brother's eventual death from syphilis is heart breaking ‘This morning he was unable to remember a single title among the books he has written’And death does loom pretty large over parts of the journal which covers such upheavals as the Franco Prussian War the Siege of Paris and the suppression of the Commune – but the Goncourts' eye is always on individual responses picturesque incident personal idiosyncrasiesNeither of them ever marries although Edmond thinks about it a few times after his brother has gone He tries to let down gently the few women that approach him Eventually in a passage that's somehow both creepy and moving he confides that he's never really got over his first erotic experience as a young boy when he was staying in his cousin's houseOne morning I went into their bedroom without knocking And I went in just as my cousin her head thrown back her knees up her legs apart and her bottom raised on a pillow was on the point of being impaled enfourchée by her husband There was a swift movement of the two bodies in which my cousin's pink bottom disappeared so quickly beneath the sheets that I might have thought it had been a hallucination But the vision remained with me And until I met Mme Charles that pink bottom on a pillow with a scalloped border was the sweet exciting image that appeared to me every night before I went to sleep beneath my closed eyelidsThe Journal amounts to an argument that what matters in life is sex death and literature – only the characters illustrating this are not fictional creations but rather Victor Hugo Flaubert Zola Degas Barbey d'Aurevilley Huysmans Dumas Oscar Wilde Swinburne and Turgenev It's not only glorious and life affirming it's also very moving because even while Edmond rages against how his literary works have been overlooked the reader is increasingly aware that this journal is going to be everything that they hoped for their novels and A book is never a masterpiece it becomes one Genius is the talent of a dead manA talent they obviously had I would rather read half a page of the Goncourts on Zola than a hundred pages of Zola himself Indeed right now I feel I'd rather read half a page of the Goncourts on anything than almost anything else