Paul Verlaine

Paul Verlaine

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Paul Verlaine by Stefan Zweig

Published:

1913

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Paul Verlaine

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Book Excerpt

was taken back with gentle force.

This was the catastrophe. Verlaine's weak character willingly submitted to foreign influences; it became dulled under the influence of his comrades, "and the overthrow began." A foreign element entered his being, a materialistic cynical trait, for the present only gaminerie, while he was still a stranger to sex. The specific Parisian character, a mingling of vanity, insolence, scoffing wit (raillerie) and boastful bravado, tempted the soft dreamy boy, but conquered him only for short hours.

This conflict between feminine sensitivity and a gaminerie eager for enjoyment wages incessant warfare throughout his life. Sometimes it harmonizes for brief moments voluptuousness and idealism, but neither side ever wins and the struggle never ceases. The characteristics of Faust and Mephistopheles never became fully linked in Verlaine; they only interlaced. With the overpowering capacity for self-surrender which he spent on everything, he could c

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