Inside the boulevard cafs the gas butterflies of the chandeliers fluttered quickly away, one by one, into the darkness. Outside could be heard the noise of the chairs being arranged in quartets on the marble-topped tables; it was the psychological moment when every cafe proprietor thinks fit to show the last customers, with an arm ending in a napkin, the Caudine Forks of the back door.
That Sunday the sad October wind was whistling through the streets. A few yellow leaves, dusty and rustling, were blown along by the squalls, touching the stones and skimming the asphalt, and then, like bats, disappeared into the shadows, arousing the idea of commonplace days lived through once for all. The theatres of the Boulevard du Crime where, during the evening, all the Medicis, Salviatis, and Montefeltres had been stabbing one another with the utmost fervour, stood silent, their mute portals guarded by their caryatids. Carriages and pedestrians became fewer from one moment to the next; here and there, the sceptical lanterns of rag-pickers gleamed already, phosphorescent glows given off by the rubbish-heaps over which they were wandering.
Under a street lamp level with the Rue Hauteville, at the corner of a fairly luxurious-looking cafe, a tall passer-by had come to a stop, as if automatically hes
The Desire to be a Man by Auguste de Villiers de l'Isle-Adam (1838-1889) is like eating bitter herbs: you know they are good for you, but the taste leaves much to be desired.
The Desire to be a Man is a story not easily understood on the first reading. The tale centers on Esprit Chaudval as he seeks to overcome years of acting out the lives of others on the stage and for the first time enjoy a true human emotion that is truly his and not played out for an audience on the stage.
The action he takes to become a human being is unspeakably evil and in the end, a story that seems to simply focus on a tawdry little man becomes more than a horror tale with the final sentence, but also a critique of our times when our cultural heroes are Hollywood movie stars and shallow politicians whose only true gift is hiding their real faces.
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