So I just finished typing up that book about Le Bas--yes, that's what I've decided to call it from now on, so mark it well--so I wouldn't have to keep damaging the binding every time I want to look for something in it. Finished, that is, except for Sardou's preface, which I avoided transcribing to begin with... I started it this time, but I just couldn't finish with it. I had really had enough by the point when Sardou started calling Maxime a "monster." Um, no. I feel that I should include it somehow, but I just can't bring myself to type the rest of it. Perhaps I'll figure out a way to scan it without completely killing what's left of the binding...
But is it worth it? I mean, how should one react to the kind of arrogance that assures us that a person--in this case Élisabeth Le Bas--who actually knew another person--in this case Maxime--when he was alive is so blind that she's even wrong about his physical appearance? Naturally, it never occurs to Sardou that it just might be the following description that is fabricated and not Élisabeth's account.
Seriously, look at this:
"Avec le temps, l’image du grand homme s’était idéalisée au point qu’elle le voyait beau. – Sa tête de chat aux pommettes saillantes, couturées de petite vérole ; son teint bilieux, ses yeux verts bordés de rouge, sous ses lunettes bleues ; sa voix aigre, son verbe sec, pédant, hargneux, cassant ; son port de tête hautain, ses gestes convulsifs, tout cela s’était effacé, fondu, transformé en une douce figure d’apôtre, martyr de sa foi pour le salut des hommes !"
"With time, the image of the great man had been idealized to the point that she saw him as handsome. - His cat's head with protruding cheekbones, scarred from smallpox; his bilious coloring, his green eyes rimmed with red beneath his blue spectacles; his harsh boice, his dry, pedantic, agressive, and abrupt speech; how haughtily he carried his head, his convulsive gestures: all of that was erased, melted down, transformed into the mild form of an apostle, a martyr to his faith for the welfare of men!"
And then he has the gall to say "her illusion was quite natural!" Because obviously, she's the one with illusions! I would rather think it the other way around... Think of it: a man reads a few books and thinks he knows more about someone than a person who actually knew him. It's just disgusting and pathetic.
It would have been idiotic to expect better from the author of a royalist play--about the Revolution--that excited so much protest in the new Third Republic that it had to be banned after only two performances. But... oh, it just get's worse and worse: "Ah ! que Taine a donc raison de s'écrier que, cent ans après sa mort, il [Robespierre] fait encore des dupes !" ("Ah! how right Taine was to cry that, one hundred years after his death, he [Robespierre] is still making dupes!") D:< And then he goes and cites completely fabricated "evidence" to "prove" that Maxime was a "monster." So. Not. Okay.
*calms down a bit* I know I shouldn't be getting so angry about random 19th century counterrevolutionaries whose writings almost no one reads anymore, but many revisionists have that same characteristic arrogance. There's really nothing that pisses me off more than arrogant ignorance--and there is ignorance in a person who believes everything he reads in the first book or two he ever reads on a subject and then refuses, against all evidence, to believe anything that contradicts that first set of arbitrary beliefs. D:<
...Which actually puts me in mind of an article on the evolution of portrayals of Maxime's appearance and how it relates to the myth metaphorically opposing him and Danton, that I should post....