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by Victor Hugo
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0898756057, Paperback)From The North American Review of Current American Literature, August, 1887: In Things Seen we have some rapid sketches, dated from 1838 to 1875, beginning with a wonderful portrait of Talleyrand and ending with Thiers and Rochefort. It would be strange, indeed, if the personality of a writer who came to earth with that strange miracle, the French Revolution, could ever lose its fascination.
These sketches have the power of simplicity. Hugo attempts in them none of those vast and Dore-like effects which in his more important works became eventually a blemish. He draws Talleyrand in a few lines: "He was of noble descent, like Machiavel, a priest like Gondi, unfrocked like Fouche, witty like Voltaire, and lame like the devil. It might be averred that everything in him was lame like himself.
The nobility which he had placed at the service of the Republic, the priesthood which he had dragged through the parade ground, then cast into the gutter, the marriage which he had broken off through a score of exposures and a voluntary separation --- he received the confession of Mirabeau and the first confidence of Thiers.
"In the Rue Saint Florentin, Hugo says, there is a palace and a sewer. Talleyrand lived in the palace, where he wove his webs that took in all Europe, but he never looked at the sewer. After his death, the doctors who made the autopsy left his brain on a table, and a servant, wondering what was to be done with it, remembered there was a sewer in the street; he went and threw the brain into the sewer..."
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 28 Apr 2011 03:52:26 -0400)
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