In the fall of 1840, eighteen-year-old Frederick Moreau returned to the home town of Nogent-on-the-Seine. He had already received a bachelor’s degree and soon had to go to Paris to study law. Dreamy, capable of science and artistic, “he found that the happiness that deserves the perfection of his soul, procrastinates.” On the boat he met Arnu’s family. My husband was a sociable, healthy man of about forty and owned the “Art Industry” – an enterprise connecting a newspaper dedicated to painting and a shop selling paintings. His wife, Maria, struck Frederic with unusual beauty. “As if a vision had appeared to him… He had never seen such a delightful swarthy skin, such a charming mill, such thin fingers.” He fell in love with Madame Arnu romantic and at the same time passionate love, yet not knowing,
In Nogent, he met with Charles Delormier, his college friend. Because of poverty, Charles was forced to interrupt education and serve as a clerk in the province. Both friends were going to live together in Paris. But funds for this so far were only with Frederick, whom his mother lent. In college, friends dreamed of great deeds. Frederick – about becoming a famous writer, Charles – about how to create a new philosophical system. Now he predicted an early revolution and regretted that poverty prevents him from deploying propaganda.
Settled in Paris, Frederic overhauled a set of ordinary secular entertainment, acquired new acquaintances and soon “fell into complete idleness.” True, he composed a novel in the spirit of Walter Scott, where he was the hero himself, and the heroine was Mrs. Arnoux, but this activity did not inspire him for long. After several unsuccessful attempts, the case helped him enter the house to Arnoux. Located in Montmartre, the “Art Industry” was something of a political and artistic salon. But for Frederic, his crazy love for Madame Arnoux, to whom he was afraid to admit his feelings, was the main thing. Delormier, by this time already arrived in Paris, did not understand the fascination of a friend and advised him to pursue his own or to throw the passion out of his head. He shared with Frederic shelter, lived on his money, but could not overcome envy of a friend – a darling of fate. He himself dreamed of a great policy, of leading the masses, of reaching out to the socialists who were in their youth company.
Time passed, and both friends defended their dissertations, with Charles shining. Frederic’s mother could no longer send her the necessary amount, besides, she grew old and complained of loneliness. The young man had to leave the capital, from which all his attachments and hopes were connected, and get a job in Nogent. Gradually, he “got used to the province, plunged into it, and even his love itself acquired a drowsy charm.” At that time, the only joy of Frederic was Louise Rocque – a neighbor girl-teenager. Her father was the manager of the large Parisian banker Damreza and successfully increased his own capital. So three years passed. Finally died the aged uncle Frederick, and the hero became the heir of a considerable fortune. Now he was able to return to Paris again, promising his mother to make a diplomatic career there.
In Paris, it became clear that Arnu already had a second child, that the “Art Industry” began to bear losses and had to be sold, and in exchange to start trading in faience. Madame Arnoux, as before, did not give Frederic any hope of reciprocity. The meeting with Delormier did not make the hero happy. He did not have a lawyer career, he lost several cases in court and now too obviously wanted to join the legacy of a friend and spoke too much evil about people occupying some position. Frederic settled in a cozy mansion, having finished it in the latest fashion. Now he was rich enough to enter the chosen capital circles. However, he still loved old friends, among whom were the very poor – for example, the eternal loser, the ardent socialist Senecal or the Republican Dussardier – honest and kind, but somewhat limited.
Frederic by nature was soft, romantic, delicate, he did not differ prudence and sometimes was really generous. Not without ambition, he still could not choose a worthy application to his mind and abilities. Then he took up literary work, then for historical research, then he studied painting, then he considered the ministerial career. He did not finish anything. He found an explanation in his unhappy love, which paralyzed his will, but he could not resist the circumstances. Gradually, he became closer to the Arnu family, became the closest person in their home, constantly communicated with his husband and knew everything about his secret adventures and financial affairs, but this only added to his suffering. He saw that the woman he worshiped suffered a deception not without charm, but a vulgar and mediocre businessman, such as Jacques Arnoux,
Heart longing, however, did not prevent the hero from leading a secular way of life. He attended balls, masquerades, theaters, fashionable restaurants and salons. He was a member of the house of the courtesan Rosanette, nicknamed the Captain, the mistress of Arnoux, and at the same time he became a regular at the Dames and enjoyed the favor of the banker herself. In Delormier, who was still forced to be content with dinners for thirty su and work hard, the distracted life of a friend caused anger. Charles dreamed of his own newspaper as the last chance to gain an influential position. And once he directly asked for money from Frederick. And although it took him to withdraw a large amount from fixed capital, he did it. But on the last day, fifteen thousand francs were taken not to Charles, but to Jacques Arnou, who was threatened by a court after an unsuccessful deal. He saved his beloved woman from ruin, feeling guilt in front of another.
In the society on the eve of the revolution there was confusion, in Frederick’s feelings too. He still reverently loved Madame Arnoux, but at the same time he wished to become the lover of Rosanette. “Communication with these two women was like two melodies, one was playful, impetuous, amusing, the other... – solemn, almost prayerful.” And from time to time Frederic dreamed of a connection with Mrs. Dumrez, which would give him weight in society. He was a child of light – and at the same time he had already felt the cold and falsity of his brilliance.
After receiving a letter from his mother, he again went to Nogent. Neighbor Louise Rock by that time had become a rich bride. She loved Frederick since adolescence. Their marriage was, as it were, tacitly resolved, and yet the hero hesitated. He returned to Paris again, promising the girl that he was leaving for a short while. But a new meeting with Madame Arnou crossed out all plans. She heard rumors about Frederick’s plans, and she was shocked by it. She realized that she loved him. Now he denied everything – and passion for Rosanetta, and an early marriage. He swore to her in eternal love – and then she first allowed him to kiss himself. They actually confessed their love for each other and for a while met as true friends, experienced a quiet happiness. But they did not get close to them. One day, Mrs. Arnoux had already agreed to a meeting with him, but Frederic waited in vain for her for several hours. He did not know, that at night the little son of Madame Arnou fell seriously ill and she took it as God’s sign. In a specially rented room, he angrily led Rosanette. This was the February night of 1848.
They woke up from rifle shots. Entering the Champs Elysees, Frederic learned that the king had fled and proclaimed a republic. The doors of the Tuileries were open. “Everyone was seized by a frantic joy, as if the disappeared throne had already given way to boundless future happiness.” Magnetism of the enthusiastic crowd was also transferred to Frederick. He wrote an enthusiastic article in the newspaper – the lyric ode of the revolution, along with friends began to go to workers, clubs and rallies. Delormier asked the new authorities to appoint a provincial commissioner. Frederic tried to nominate his candidacy for the Legislative Assembly, but was booed as an aristocrat.
In the secular circles there was a rapid change of political sympathies. All immediately declared themselves supporters of the republic – from the frivolous Captain to the State Council, the Damrez and the Archbishop of Paris. In fact, the nobility and the bourgeois were worried only by concerns about preserving the habitual way of life and property. The proclamation of the republic did not solve the problems of the lower classes. In June, a workers’ insurgency began.
At this time, Frederic, already cooled to politics, was experiencing something like a honeymoon with Rosanetta. She was voracious, but natural and spontaneous. Barricades were built in Paris, shots rattled, and they left for the city, lived in a rural hotel, wandered all day in the woods or lay on the grass. Political unrest “seemed to him insignificant in comparison with their love and eternal nature.” However, having learned from the newspaper about the injury of Dussardier, Frederic rushed to Paris and again fell into the thick of events. He saw how mercilessly the insurrection was suppressed by the soldiers. “With a triumphant expression of stupid, animal equality, the same level of bloody meanness was established, the aristocracy rampaged in the same way as the mob… the public mind was dazed.” The ardent liberals have now been sealed by conservatives,
These days, Louise Rocque, dying of anxiety for her lover, came to Paris. She did not find Frederic, who lived with Rosanette in another apartment, and met him only at a dinner at the Damres. Among the society ladies the girl seemed provincial to him, he spoke evasively, and she bitterly realized that their marriage was canceled.
In Delorme, the commissar’s career ended ingloriously. “Since he preached brotherhood to conservatives, and socialists respected the law, some shot at him, while others brought rope to hang him… He knocked at the door of democracy, offering to serve her as a pen, speech, his activity, but everywhere was rejected… “
Rosanette gave birth to a baby, but soon he died. Frederic gradually cooled to her. Now he began an affair with Madame Damezre. He deceived both of them, but in return their love for him became only stronger. And in her thoughts always lived, and Madame Arnoux. When the banker Damrez – one of the largest bribe takers of his time – died of illness, the widow over the coffin of her husband herself offered Frederic to marry her. He understood that this marriage would give him many opportunities. But this wedding was not destined to come true. It took money again to save Arna from prison. Frederic lent them to the new bride, of course, not to mention the purpose. She recognized and decided to take revenge with her inherent cunning. Through Delorme she used the old bills and obtained an inventory of Arnu’s property. I also came to the auction when things went under the hammer. And before Frederic’s eyes, despite his desperate request, bought a bauble with which he had precious memories connected. Right after that, Frederick broke up with her forever. He also broke with the Captain, who sincerely loved him.
The unrest in Paris continued, and one day he accidentally witnessed a street brawl. Before his eyes, from the hands of a policeman he died – with a cry “Long live the republic!” – Dussardieu. “The policeman looked around, looked around with eyes, and Frédéric, astonished, recognized Senecal…”
… Frederic traveled, experienced yet another novel, but never married, and “the acuity of passion, all the charm of feeling were lost.” The years passed, he reconciled with this idleness of thought, the stagnation of the heart. ” Twenty years later, he saw Madame Arnoux, who now lived in the province. It was a sad meeting of old friends. Frederic also met with Delorme. He once married Louise Rock, but soon she escaped from him with some singer. Both friends now led a modest life of respectable bourgeois. Both were indifferent to politics. Summarizing their lives, they recognized that “both of them failed – and to those who dreamed of love, and to those who dreamed of power.”