A. de Musset
Confession of the Son of the Century
“In order to write the history of your life, you must first live this life, that’s why I do not write about myself” – these are the opening words of the author, who conceived with his story to recover from the “monstrous moral illness,” the illness of the century that astounded his contemporaries After the Revolution of 1793 and the defeat of the Napoleonic army in 1814. For the sons of the Empire and the grandchildren of the Revolution, the past disappeared, “they had only the present, the spirit of the age, the angel of twilight – the gap between night and day.” The belief in divine and human power disappeared, the life of society became colorless and insignificant, the greatest hypocrisy prevailed in morals, and young people, doomed to inaction, idleness and boredom, were overcome with frustration and a sense of hopelessness. In place of despair came insensitivity.
This affliction overtakes the author of the narrative and his protagonist, the true son of the century, the nineteen-year-old Octave de T., a young man of proud and direct, full of bright hopes and heartfelt impulses. During a luxurious dinner after a masquerade, bending down to pick up a fork under the table, he sees that his beloved’s shoe rests on the shoe of one of his closest friends. Taking the lawyer Degein in seconds, Octave summons an opponent to a duel, gets slightly wounded,
Deprived of status in society and not having certain classes, accustomed, however, to spend time in idleness and love hobbies, Octave is confused, does not know how to live on. In one of the gloomy autumn evenings, the lawyer Dezhene, a man who does not believe in anything and does not fear anything, shares his life credo with him: “Love does not exist, perfection does not exist, take from love what a sober person takes from wine. .. “
Having met one of the friends of his former lover, abandoned by his beloved, he sincerely empathizes with her, but again faces monstrous shamelessness when she tries to seduce him. “There is nothing true, except for debauchery, corruption and hypocrisy,” says Octave, trying to completely change the way of life: to go on country walks, to hunt, to fence. But his desperate sadness does not leave him. He often spends nights under the windows of a former lover; having once met a drunk, tries to satisfy his sorrow with wine and, having gone to the zucchini, meets a street woman there. He is struck by the similarity of the latter with the former lover, and decorating his room as for a love date, Octave leads a prostitute there. “That’s human happiness, that’s the corpse of love,” he thinks.
The next morning, Deguin and his friends inform Octave that his lover had three lovers at the same time, which is known all over Paris. She mockingly tells strangers that Octave still loves her and spends time at her door. So Degene tries to heal Octave from a love affair. The offended Octave shows his friends a prostitute and promises them never to part with them any more. From now on, he burns life on balls-masquerades, in carols and gambling houses.
Hospitable Decene gathers young people in his country house, including Octave. One night, to Octave, a half-dressed woman enters the room and gives him a note: “Octave from his friend Degene with the condition to repay the same.” Octave understands that the lesson of a friend sending him his mistress is to never fall in love.
Returning to Paris, Octave spends the winter in amusement and wins the reputation of an inveterate libertine, a man of insensitivity and callousness. At this time in his life there are two women. One of them is a young poor seamstress who soon throws Octave. The other is the dancer of the Italian theater Marco, with whom Octave meets at a ball and the same evening reads in her bedroom a letter announcing the death of her mother.
Suddenly, the servant tells Octave that his own father is at death’s door. Arriving in a village near Paris, where his father lived, Octave finds him dead. “Farewell, my son, I love you and I die,” – reads Octave’s last words of his father in his diary. Octave settles in the village with a devoted servant Lariv. In a state of moral devastation and indifference to everything in the world, he gets acquainted with the papers of his father, “a true righteous man without fear and reproach.” Having learned from his diary the daily routine of his father, he is going to follow him to the slightest detail.
One evening, on an evening walk, Octave meets a young, simply dressed woman. He learns from Larive that this is Mrs. Pearson, a widow. In the village her name is Brigitte-Rose. She lives with her aunt in a small house, leads a solitary lifestyle and is known for her charity. Octave meets her on the farm, where she takes care of a sick woman, and escorts her home. Ms. Pierson amazes him with his education, intelligence and love of life. However, he also notes the stamp of secret suffering on her face. Within three months, Octave sees every day with Ms. Pierson, realizes that she loves her, but respect for her does not allow him to open up. Once in the garden of Brigitte, he still confesses to her in love. The next day, Octave falls ill with a fever, receives a letter from Brigitta asking her not to see her again, that she had gone to her relatives in the city of N. Probolev for a whole week, Octave was about to fulfill Brigitte’s request, but soon went straight to N. Having met there with Brigitte, he again told her of his love. Soon he manages to restore with her former relations of good neighbors. But both feel that Octave’s love stands between them.
In the house of Octave, the priest Merkanson appears with the news of Brigitte’s illness. In alarm, Octave is trying to get a response regarding the true reason for this visit and the apparently imaginary illness. It follows from Brigitte’s letter that she is afraid of gossip. Octave suffers deeply. During one of the walks with Brigitte on horseback, he finally passes to a decisive explanation and in return receives a kiss.
Soon Octave becomes Lover Pearson’s lover, but in his soul there is a change. He feels the symptoms of unhappiness, like illnesses; remembering the sufferings suffered, the treachery of the former lover, about the old depraved environment, his contempt for love and disappointment, he invented false reasons for jealousy. He covers the state of inactivity, he then poisons with ironic jokes happy moments of love, then surrenders to sincere repentance. Octave is in the power of evil elements: insane jealousy, poured out in reproaches and jeers, and an unrestrained desire to joke all the most precious. Brigitte does not reproach Octave for the suffering she causes, and tells him the story of her life. Her fiancé was dishonored, and then fled abroad with another woman. Brigitte swore since then that her suffering should not be repeated, but forgot about the oath,
In the village, gossip begins that Brigitta has destroyed herself, having connected her life with a cruel and dangerous person. They speak of her as a woman who has ceased to consider public opinion, which in the future expects a well-deserved punishment. Gossip is spread by priest Merkanson. But Octave and Brigitte decide not to pay attention to the opinion of the world.
Aunt Brigitta is dying. Brigitte burns an old wreath of roses, kept in a small chapel. He symbolized Brigitte-Rose herself, which is no more. Octave again tears Brigitte suspicions, she tolerates his contemptuous remarks and resentments, alternating with the ecstatic raptures of love.
Once Octave stumbles in her room on a notebook with the inscription “My Testament.” Brigitte without bitterness and anger talks about the suffering that has been experienced since the meeting with Octave, about the feeling of loneliness that has not left her and her desire to commit suicide by taking poison. Octave decides to leave immediately: however, they go together to forever say goodbye to the past.
Beloved ones come to Paris, dreaming of going on a long journey. At the thought of a speedy departure, their quarrels and sorrows cease. One day they are visited by a young man who brings Brigitte letters from the city of N. from the only surviving relatives. At a time when everything is ready to go to Switzerland, Brigitte cries, but stubbornly remains silent. Octave is lost in conjecture about the reasons for the sudden change in her mood. In the theater, he accidentally meets a young man who brought Brigitte letters, but he deliberately avoids the conversation. Brigitte reluctantly shows Octave one of the letters in which relatives who consider her forever disgraced call upon her to return home.
Octave is looking for a young man who has brought letters to Brigitte. His name is Smith, he is a musician who refused a career and a love marriage for the sake of keeping his mother and sister in a small position. Octave is the same age as Smith, but between them is a huge difference: the entire existence of the latter is calculated in accordance with a measured battle of hours, and his thoughts are concern for the welfare of his neighbor. Smith becomes a frequent visitor in the house of Octave and Brigitta and promises to prevent her scandalous break with relatives. Octave leaves painful suspicions. Nothing further detains his departure from Brigitte, but some perverse curiosity, the manifestation of a fatal instinct, prevents him: he leaves Brigitte alone with Smith, guessing some mystery. To find out, Octave is conducting an experiment: he prepares the horses for their departure and suddenly notifies Brigitte about this. She agrees to go, but can not hide anguish. There is a rapid explanation between them. On the reproaches and suspicions of Octave, who wants to reveal her secret, Brigitte says that she is ready to die rather than part with him, but unable to bear the rage of the madman pushing her into the grave. Brigitte falls asleep exhausted, and Octave realizes that the evil he has caused is irreparable, that he should leave his beloved, give her peace.
At the bedside of the sleeping Brigitta, Octave gives sad thoughts: to do evil is such a role, destined for him by providence. The idea of suicide that arose was soon replaced by the idea that Brigitte would soon belong to another. Octave is already ready to kill Brigitte, brings a knife to her breast, but it is stopped by a small crucifix made of ebony. Suddenly he feels a deep remorse and mentally returns to God. “Lord, you were here.” You saved the atheist from the crime, we are also suffering, and only in the crown of thorns we come to bow to your image, “thinks Octave. On the table of Brigitte, he finds her farewell letter to Smith with a declaration of love. The next day, Octave and Brigitte are forgiven forever. Octave entrusts her to Smith and forever leaves Paris. Of the three people who suffered through his fault,