Balzac's idealism to the realism of Moisson, which awakened in me memories of the stories and melodramas of Ducray-Duminil, of Guilbert de Pixérecourt--"Alexis, ou la Maisonette dans les Bois," "Victor, ou l'Enfant de la Forêt,"--and many others of the same date and style so much discredited nowadays. And I thought that what caused the discredit now, accounted for their vogue formerly; that they had a substratum of truth under a mass of absurdity; that these stories of brigands in their traditional haunts, forests, caverns and subterranean passages, charmed by their likelihood the readers of those times to whom an attack on a coach by highwaymen with blackened faces was as natural an occurrence as a railway accident is to us, and that in what seems pure extravaganza to us they only saw a scarcely exaggerated picture of things that were continually happening under their eyes. In the reports published by M. Félix Rocquain we can learn the state of France during the Directory and the early years of the Commune.
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