Translated by Joseph Walker McSpadden
J. WALKER McSPADDEN
Are you a confirmed /Balzacian/?--to employ a former expression of Gautier in /Jeune France/ on the morrow following the appearance of that mystic Rabelaisian epic, /The Magic Skin/. Have you experienced, while reading at school or clandestinely some stray volume of the /Comedie Humaine/, a sort of exaltation such as no other book had aroused hitherto, and few have caused since? Have you dreamed at an age when one plucks in advance all the fruit from the tree of life-- yet in blossom--I repeat, have you dreamed of being a Daniel d'Arthez, and of covering yourself with glory by the force of your achievements, in order to be requited, some day, for all the sufferings of your poverty-stricken youth, by the sublime Diane, Duchesse de Maufrigneuse, Princesse de Cadignan?
Or, perchance, being more ambitious and less literary, you have desired to see--like a second Rastignac, the doors of high society opened to your eager gaze by means o