More Flaubert and Objects

by devinking

This, from the end of Sentimental Education, where Frédéric is forced to go to an auction of his unrequited love’s apartment knick knacks:

He immediately recognized the two whatnots from L’Art industriel, her work-table, all her furniture! It was psread out on the floor at the far end, stacked in a pile sloping right up to the ceiling, while on the other sides, carpets and curtains hung from the walls…When Frédéric came in, the petticoats, the scarves, handkerchiefs and even the shifts were being passed round from hand to hand for scrutiny; every so often, they’d be tossed over to someone else and something white would suddenly flash through the air. Next her dresses were sold, then one of her hats with a broken feather dangling down, then her furs, then three pairs of bootees; seeing all these relics of her doled out in bits and pieces, where he could still vaguely sense the shape of parts of her body, seemed to him like a sort of atrocity, as if vultures were tearing pieces off her corpse. The atmosphere in the room reeked of other people’s breath, making him feel sick…

They produced the bedroom furniture…

And so, one after the other, he saw the things disappear: the large blue floral carpet over whose camellias Her tiny feet used to brush as she walked towards him, the small tapestry wing-chair where he would always sit facing Her whenever they were alone; the two firescreens, whose ivory had been made the softer by the touch of Her hands; a velvet pincushion still bristling with pins. With each article, he felt as if a piece of his own heart was being taken out; the monotonous repetition of voices and gestures was making him tired, numbing his mind, dissolving him into a deathly state of torpor.

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