Sunday, July 10, 2011

Edith Wharton

The French possess the quality and have always claimed the privilege. And from their freedom of view combined with their sensuous sensibility they have extracted the sensation they call "le plaisir," which is something so much more definite and more evocative than what we mean when we speak of pleasure. "Le plaisir" stands for the frankly permitted, the freely taken, delight of the senses, the direct enjoyment of the fruit of the tree called golden. No suggestions of furtive vice degrade or coarsen it, because it has, like love, its open place in speech and practice. It has found its expression in English also, but only on the lips of for instance, in the "bursting of joy's grape" in the "Ode to Melancholy" (it is always in Keats that one seeks such utterances); whereas to the French it is part of the general fearless and joyful contact with life.

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