I'm not a big reader of love stories, and certainly not love stories set in the 1800s. I've never finished "Pride and Prejudice" and dragged myself through any similar reading I had to do for school. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with those novels, I'd just rather read something else.
Which is why I was hesitant to even buy Benjamin Constant's "Adolphe" when I found it during a Borders Closing. But, once again, the clean design of the Art of the Novella series won me over and I took it home. And I'm glad. It was a great book to stash in my bag and read on the train. Plus, the length was perfect. I don't think I could have lasted much longer through the melodramatic 19th century love saga, but I did enjoy it while I was reading it and marked a couple of lines that I really enjoyed.
In short, "Adolphe" is about an affair. When published, it caused a huge scandal because it was believed to be about the author and a famous french writer of the time. It is definitely a tangled story and whether or not it is a sort-of autobiography, I was curious to see how the mess ended.
I've included my favorite passages under the jump with a few more photos.
Love makes up for the lack of long memories by a sort of magic. All other affections need a past; love creates a past which envelops us, as if by enchantment.
Who can describe the charm of love? That conviction that we have found that being who was destined by nature to be ours, that hidden illumination of life, that new value attaching to the slightest circumstances, those swift hours, the details of which elude us upon reflection, through their very sweetness, leaving in our mind only a long trail of happiness, that playful gravity which occasionally mingles for no reason with our general feeling of tenderness; in our love's presence such pleasure, in her absence such hope; such aloofness to all vulgar cares, such feeling of superiority towards all our surroundings and of certainty that on the plane on which we are living, society can no longer touch us, and that mutual understanding which drives each thought and responds to each emotion - the charm of love! Those who have known the charm of love can not describe it!
There are things one does not say for a long time, but, once they are said, one never stops repeating them.
It is a fearful misfortune not to be loved when you love; but it is a much greater misfortune to be loved passionately when you love no longer.
Whoever you are, never entrust to another the interests of your heart; the heart alone can plead its own cause; the heart alone can fathom its own wounds.