Chapter 65834299

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Chapter NumberII
Chapter Title
Chapter Url
Full Date1892-06-09
Page Number1
Word Count1797
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleMornington Standard (Vic. : 1889 - 1908)
Trove TitleThe Masterpiece of Crime
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The' easterpiece of Crime. (Anarrsn anon ae Fansca ax E.'B. H.) CHAPTEB II. The "Masterpiece of Crime" appeared in the Revue des Deus Mondes, and had a pro digious success. One can gather some idea of it from the following few extracts from the reviews which saluted its appearance. "Everyone knows that under the pseu donym of Oscar Lapisotte (a somewhat too fantastic-a fancy-name, perhaps) is con eealed an author' who takes a pleasure in such disguises, M. Anatole Desroses. After having for some time squandered his talent in petty journalism, M. Anatole Desroses has just given us true measure. The novel is drawn from a drama of the courts which took place some ten years ago in the Rue St. Denis. .But the imagination of the novelist has succeeded in transforming a vulgar assassination into a work of aston ishing ingenuity. Poor Gaborian himself would not have been able to discover the complications M. Anatole Desroses has in vented. We will give ' The Masterpiece of Crime' in our double number next Sun day.-(PmunsrE GILLE.--Figaro.) " Apropos of this, I ought to mention the creeps which ' The Masterpiece of Crime' caused me. There isin the analysis of mo tives a degree of metaphysics which to me somewhat spoils the truly extraordinary im aginative powersof the narrator. But what book is without fault ? The very oddity of these subtle details is like an agreeable ra gout. Grimaud de laReyvrieve andRestif de Ia Bretonne have those amusing obscuri ties. M. Anatole Desroses is of their family. He has, like them, written a heap of unknown things, amongst which are fifty pages quite remarkable. He will be the most celebrates of the forgotten and de spised of our time."-(CnmnLrs MoUSELrT. Evoenmeut.) " The author of this novel is not a lyric writer, as we thought him, but he is none the less a realist. To judge, indeed, by his fantastic genius, one would certainly aver that Anatole Desroses is rather a foster child of the Eumenides, the blood-thirsty ban dogs that bay upon the track of Orestes, the murderer of great Clytemnestra, than a nurseling of the white-bosomed Graces. Buot what matter the soil, provided one sees the bay-tree fiourishing."-(THEoDoeE ?E Bau vLLE.-National. And other critiques of like character. Seyare held a conference on the Boule vard des Capucines over" The Masterpiece of Crime." He compared it with Hoffmann and Edgar Poe, pointed two epigrams on dramatic art, as connected with the physio logical antecedents, which conduce to scenes of murder, digressed slightly with reference to the school of comedy, then to the normal school, again to the spirit of di gression, and finally called the author a bit of a genius, digging him familiarly in the ribs. To sum up, there was a concert of praise, with the exception of the inevitable outcry from the envious, fools, would-be sages, and other small fry of journalism. Yet in all the articles, even the most flat tering, two things always appeared which irritated Oscar Lapissotte very much. The first was that people persisted in taking his real name for a nickname, and in calling him Anatole Desroses! The second was that they spoke too much of his imagina tion, and did not dwell iuflicientiy upon the probability of his narrative. These two points tormented him to such an extent that he lost in them the whole happiness of his budding glory. Artisteare so constituted that even when the critics give them a bed of roses to sleep upon they suffer if one petal causes the smallest wrinkle. One fine day, as some acquaintance was congratulating the great man who had written "The Masterpiece of Crime," and was swinging incense before his nose with all his might, the great man sharply re joined:--" Well, sir, you would corigratu. late me very differently if you only knew the real facts of the case. My story is not a romance; it really happened. The crime was committed just as I related it. It is I who committed it. I have .called my. self by my real name, Oscar Lapissotte." He said this with a haughty air of convic-' tion, separating his phrases well like one who wishes to be believed. "' Ah! charming! charming!" cried his acquaintance. ." The witticism displaysthe most astounding cynicism. It is quite one of Baudelaire's best." And the next day all the papers related the anecdote. They thought the attempt at mystification by which Anatole Desroses wanted to pass himself off as an assassin delicious. Cer tainly, he was an original, and worthy to be a Parisian. Oscar Lapisotte became furious. When he made this terrible confession he had acted in some measure mechanically. Now he was really anxious to be believed by someone. He renewed his confession to every friend he met on the Boulevard. The first day this appeared droll; the second day people thought it a monotonous faree; .the third day he was put down as a bore; at the end of the week he passed for a thorough-going idiot. He did not know how tomaintain himself at the summit of his reputation as a great man; his warmest partisans sneeredathim; and this beginning of a fall exasperated him. "Oh ! it is too much !" he said to his in- credulous friends in-the open caf6. "So noo one will give credit to the real truthl? No one will realise that I not only wrote. but executed " The Masterpiece of Crimes" Very well! I shall keep up my spirits. To morrow all Paris shall know who Oscar Lapiesotte is." He went and called upon the investigat ing magistrate who had conducted the :Bue Saint Denis affair. "S ir," he said to him; I come to give my self up as a prisoner. I am Oscar Lapisa sotte." " 'Pray do not continue, sir," ventured the - magistrate with politeness; "I have read your novel, on which I compliment you. I know, too, the eccentricity with which you have been amusing yourself for the past week. Anyone but I would, perhaps, be angry that you should carry your jest as far as the magistracy. But I am fond of lite rature, and I could not be annoyed with you fotoplayingyour witty farce upon me, too, sines it earns me the pleasure of your as quasntance." ." Sir," said Oscar, impatient at these civi -lities, "there is no pleasantry in the '- matter. I swear to you that I am Osar " ,mmsm.-:

Lapiseotte, that I committed the crime, ad will prove it" ".Very well, sir," said the magistrate; "you will see how good-humoured Iam. rer the curiosity of the thing, I am quite willing to lend myself to this game. I will eves confess that I promise myself beforehand a treat to see what means so subtle a wit s yours will adopt to prove to me what is alib surd." "Absurd? But what I related is the ab, solute truth. The coachman was not guilty. It was I who-" "I believe I have told you, my dear sir,{ that I have read your novel. If you are? pleased to relate it to me yourself, I shall be infinitely delighted; but that will prove no thing to me at all, except what has been already proved to me, that you have a sin gularly rich and peculiar imagination." "I had only sufficient imagination to commit my crime." "Not to commit-to write it, my dear sir; to write it. Stay, let me tell you all I think on that point. You had a little too much imagination; you exceeded thelicence permitted to the fancy of the writer; you invented certain details which err against probability." "But I tell you--" "Permit me, permit me. You will allow me to arrogate to myself some capability in the matter of crime. Well, then, I assure you, on my conscience, that your crime is not naturally planned. The meeting with the nurse at the hospital is too improbable a chance; chloral, too (forgive the pun), is hard to digest, and many other like de tails. In so far as it is a work of art, your novel is charming, original, well worked out, what one calls engrossing, and I admit that you were perfectly right, as a writer, to thus travesty reality. But your famous crime is in itself an impossibility. My dear Mfonsieur Desroses, I deeply regret to mor tify you; but though I admire you as a man of letters, I really am quite unable to regard you seriously as a criminal." "Well ! you shall just see," yelled Oscar Lapissotte, springing upon the magistrate. His lips were foaming, his eyes bloodshot, his whole body transported by an excess of rage. He would have strangled the magis trate had not people come in at the cries. They overcame the furious man and tied him, and he was immediately shut up. Five days later they took him to Chavee ton, as a madman. " See I where literature leads one," said one writer to another, the next day. "Ana tole Desroses once by accident achieved a great work. He was so much excited by it, that he has ended believing in the reality of his dream. It is the old fable of Pygmalion falling in love withhis statue. Poor Murger said to me one day," etc., etc. The most horrible part was that Oscar Lapissotte was not mad. His reason was perfectly sound, and he was all the more tortured I "Thus," thought he, "I undergo every ill. People will believe neither in my name nor my crime. When I die I shall pass simply as Anatole Desroses, a scribbler who had the inspiration to write but one good story; and they will take for. a character of fiction that Oscar Lapissotte, that ' I,' the man of coolness, decision and action, the hero of ferocity, the living refutal of the doctrine of remorse. Oh ! They may guil lotine me, but they shall know the truth. Were it but a moment before laying my neck upon the block; were it. but a second, whilst the blow was falling; were it but the space of a flash of lightning;-I want :to realise myglory, and have a vison of my immortality." They treated this rhapsody with douches. At length, by dint of living always with this fixed idea of his, and in the company of madmen, he himself went mad. It was only then that they released him, declaring him cured. Oscar Lapissotte ended by believing that he was indeed Anatole Desroses, and that he had never committed an assassination. He'died with the conviction that he Chad dreamed his masterpiece, and not that he had executed it.