To return to antiquity [in literature]: that has been done. To return to the Middle Ages: that too has been done. Remains the present day. But the ground is shaky: so where can you set the foundations? An answer to this question must be found if one is to produce anything vital and hence lasting. All this disturbs me so much that I no longer like to be spoken to about it.

The next day was, for Emma, a dismal one. Everything seemed enveloped in a black atmosphere that hovered indistinctly over the exterior of things, and sorrow rushed into her soul, moaning softly like the winter wind in abandoned manor houses. It was the sort of reverie you sink into over something that will never return again, the lassitude that overcomes you with each thing that is finished, the pain you suffer when any habitual motion is stopped, when a prolonged vibration abruptly ceases.

I can’t believe that our body, composed as it is of mud and shit and equipped with instincts lower than those of the pig or the crab-louse, contains anything pure and immaterial

She remembered the heroines of novels she had read, and the lyrical legion of those adulterous women began to sing in her memory with sisterly voices that enchanted her. Now she saw herself as one of those amoureuses whom she had so envied: she was becoming, in reality, one of that gallery of fictional figures; the long dream of her youth was coming true.

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