Friday, December 06, 2019 Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

Paul Bourget

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My friend returned to the gallery, looked once more at the adorable imprint of the most innocent, the most passionate of caresses. A mirror hung near by, where he could compare his present with his former face, the man he was with the man he had been. He never told me and I never asked what his feelings were at that moment. Did he feel that he was too culpable to have inspired a passion in a young girl whom he would have been a fool, almost a criminal, to marry? Did he comprehend that through his age which was so apparent, it was his youth which this child loved? Did he remember, with a keenness that was all too sad, that other, who had never given him a kiss like that at a time when he might have returned it? I only know that he left the same day, determined never again to see one whom he could no longer love as he had loved the other, with the hope, the purity, the soul of a man of twenty.
--
Pierre Fauchery, as quoted by the character "Jules Labarthe"

 
Paul Bourget

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I had a friend, a companion of my own age, who, when he was twenty, had loved a young girl. He was poor, she was rich. Her family separated them. The girl married some one else and almost immediately afterward she died. My friend lived. Some day you will know for yourself that it is almost as true to say that one recovers from all things as that there is nothing which does not leave its scar. I had been the confidant of his serious passion, and I became the confidant of the various affairs that followed that first ineffaceable disappointment. He felt, he inspired, other loves. He tasted other joys. He endured other sorrows, and yet when we were alone and when we touched upon those confidences that come from the heart's depths, the girl who was the ideal of his twentieth year reappeared in his words. How many times he has said to me, "In others I have always looked for her and as I have never found her, I have never truly loved any one but her."

 
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I have loved you ever since. I know full well that you are used to hearing women say that they love you. But I am sure that no one else has ever loved you so lavishly, with such doglike fidelity, with such devotion, as I did and do. Nothing can equal the unnoticed love of a child. It is hopeless and subservient; it is patient and passionate; it is something which the covetous love of a grown woman, the love that is unconsciously exacting, can never be. Non but lonely children can cherish such a passion. The others will squander their feelings in companionship, will dissipate them in confidential talks. They have heard and read much of love, and they know that it comes to all. They play with it like a toy; they flaunt it as a boy flaunts his first cigarette. But I had no confidant; I had been neither taught nor warned; I was inexperience and unsuspecting.

 
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As a community, youíve inspired us, Newtown. In the face of indescribable violence, in the face of unconscionable evil, youíve looked out for each other. Youíve cared for one another. And youíve loved one another. This is how Newtown will be remembered, and with time and Godís grace, that love will see you through.
But we as a nation, we are left with some hard questions.

 
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It would be more decorous not to live. To live is not decorous,
Says he who after many years
Returned to the city of his youth. There was no one left
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And now they had nothing, except his eyes.
Stumbling, he walked and looked, instead of them,
On the light they had loved, on the lilacs again in bloom.

 
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It is usually thought to be very clever to say that Faust finally becomes a Don Juan, but this means very little, since the real question is in what sense he becomes one. Faust is a daemonic figure like a Don Juan, but higher. The sensuous first becomes significant in him only after he has lost the entire preceding world, but the consciousness of this loss is not erased, it is constantly present, and he seeks therefore in the sensuous not so much enjoyment as a diversion of mind. His doubting soul finds nothing in which it can rest, and now he reaches after love, not because he believes in it, but because it has a present element in which there is rest for a moment, and a striving which distracts and diverts his attention from the nothingness of doubt. Hence his enjoyment does not have the cheerful serenity which distinguishes a Don Juan. His countenance is not wreathed in smiles, his brow is not unclouded, and happiness is not his companion; the young women do not dance into his embrace, but he frightens them to him. What he seeks is not merely the pleasure of the sensuous, but what he desires is the immediacy of the spirit. As the shades of the underworld, when they got hold of a living being, sucked his blood, and lived as long as this blood warmed and nourished them, so Faust seeks an immediate life by which he can be renewed and strengthened. And where can this be found better than in a young woman, and how can he absorb it more perfectly than in the embrace of love? As the Middle Ages tell of sorcerers who understood how to prepare an elixir for the renewal of youth, and used the heart of an innocent child for that purpose, so is this the strengthening potion his starved soul needs, the only thing which is able to satisfy him for a moment. His sick soul needs what I might call a young heartís first green shoots; and with what else shall I compare an innocent feminine soulís first youth? If I were to call it a blossom, I should say too little, for it is more, it is a flowering: the soundness of hope and faith and trust shoots forth and blossoms in rich variety, and soft impulses move the delicate shoots, and dreams shade their fruitfulness. Thus it affects a Faust, it beckons to his restless soul like a peaceful isle in the quiet sea. That it is transient no one knows better than Faust; he does not believe in it any more than he believes in anything else; but that it exists, of that he convinces himself in the embrace of love. Only the fullness of innocence and childlikeness can for a moment refresh him. 204-205

 
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