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bien des choses.' [79-80; Never had nature appeared more beautiful to me
… While awaiting the snow, I have a place that delights me. It's simply a
recess beside the sea; but enormous rocks overhang it and always seem
about to tumble, which incites within me a fear mixed with charm … It
seems to me that this place would please you perfectly, especially when
the sun lets fall upon the waves those long trains of fire that you love so
much. This evening, the most beautiful clouds I've seen were reflected in
the water. That turned the sea into a marvellous, shimmering backdrop,
and I thought of many things.]
Here the sea is clearly emblematic of nature ('la nature') in its most
beautiful ('belle'), dangerous ('prêts à s'écrouler'), passionate ('feu'),
profound ('un fond'), and ever-changing ('chatoyant') aspects. But the
sea can also suggest the infinite aspects of aspirations for the future, as
Angéline recollects of an episode from her early days with Maurice:
'Jamais la nature ne m'avait paru si belle. Debout à la fenêtre, je regar-
dais émue, éblouie. Ce lointain immense et magnifique, où la mer
éblouissante se confondait avec le ciel, m'apparaissait comme l'image
de l'avenir.' (153; Never had nature appeared so beautiful to me.
Standing at the window, I was watching, moved, dazzled. This mag-
nificant, immense remoteness where the dazzling sea melded with the
sky seemed to me like the image of the future.) Her vision will prove
prophetic, as the sky itself will come to represent future life.
If the sea serves to stimulate emotions, especially in early episodes,
later, beginning roughly with the death of M de Montbrun, it comes to
metaphorically and symbolically represent the very seat of emotions,
the 'heart.' Angéline formulates the analogy between the sea and the
heart in a late entry in her diary: 'L'un et l'autre ont la profondeur re-
doutable, la puissance terrible des orages … Qu'est-ce que la tempête
arrache aux profondeurs de la mer? qu'est-ce que la passion révèle de
notre cœur? La mer garde ses richesses, et le cœur garde ses trésors.'
(184; Both have frightening depth, the terrifying power of storms …
What does the tempest wrest from the depths of the sea? What does
passion reveal of our heart? The sea guards its riches, and the heart
guards its treasures.) Here we witness not only the evolution of the sea,
now a symbol, but especially the change in Angéline, who, faced with
the death of her father and the separation from her lover, now ques-
tions ('Qu'est-ce') the very emotions she had once merely experienced.
This evolution (of nature and character) stems in large part from
Angéline's increasingly profound readings, including Chateaubriand's
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