Books Should Be Free is now
Loyal Books
Free Public Domain Audiobooks & eBook Downloads
Search by: Title, Author or Keyword

Marie Bashkirtseff (From Childhood to Girlhood)   By: (1858-1884)

Book cover

First Page:



(From Childhood to Girlhood)




Marie Bashkirtseff, beginning at twelve years old, wrote her journal ingenuously, sincerely, amusing us by her whims, thrilling us by her enthusiasms, touching us by her sufferings.

We have gone through these note books bound in white parchment, slightly discoloured, like the winding sheet in which sleeps a memory, and have already gathered a volume, precious, not because it describes such an entertainment or such an event, but because it reveals the mentality of a young girl.

This time we have been especially interested by the first books, written in a large, unformed hand, dashing, variable, following the successive impressions of a changeful, sensitive nature.

Very few documents exist concerning children, in whom the nineteenth century alone began to interest itself.

In fact the real personality of the child is very secret, for it distrusts these comprehensive and authoritative beings, "grown up people." And it hides its ironical observations, its dreams, all the ardour of its little soul.

Children play. They have built, with sand and twigs, a fantastic world peopled with their familiar toys: a grey cloth elephant, a multi coloured duck as big as that white plush bear. And they are in the jungle, tracking, hunting, killing. Then they dance round to a secret rhythm. Stop to look at them, the game will end. The little mouths will become silent. The child will always hide the ingenuous observations it makes with its clear eyes.

Therefore it seems to us very interesting to show a little girl's existence, not told from the distance of past years, but written day by day. Marie Bashkirtseff was a child of precocious intelligence, ardent will, extreme intensity of life. Maurice Barr├Ęs defines it sensibly in saying that she had, "when very young, amalgamated five or six exceptional souls in her delicate, already failing body."

The nomad life led by her parents, residences in Paris, London, Nice, Rome, hastened the development of a vivid intelligence.

This little "uprooted" girl accommodated herself to these varied lives with the versatility of children, but she knew how to reserve her personal life of study. It was a strange intellectual solicitude of the little girl living among idle people and dreaming of "becoming somebody famous." And, completely surrounded by refined luxury, she knew how to see the humble folk, whose expressive features she has inscribed in a way not to be forgotten in her pictures.

If this journal reveals a precocious intellect, it preserves and this is its charm a spontaneity of childhood for the little Slav was a bewitching little girl, with rosy cheeks and clear eyes. Has she not evoked all the marvellous imagination of the little ones in these words: "Because I put on an ermine cloak, I imagine that I am a queen"?

Marie's sentimental life has greatly perturbed her biographers. They have accused her of having a cold, indifferent heart. Others, more penetrating, have seen that Marie considered love as a religion for which a god was necessary. Hence her dream as a young girl: "to love a superior being." And she wrote to Maupassant.

Jean Finot has pointed out that there was something "infinitely tragical in the approach from a distance of these two sublime beings already stamped by death." Besides, Marie did not know the novelist.

Another person interested the young girl, Bastien Lepage. Their double death struggle drew them together for a moment, and death permanently unites their names in our memory.

So let us not seek the sentimental secret which Marie did not wish to reveal to us. Goncourt tells us the story of that Hokousaï who signed " An old man crazy to be conspicuous ." Let us think that Marie was also the young girl crazy to be conspicuous .

But let us go back to an idyl little known of Marie's twelfth year. The fact itself is not very extraordinary... Continue reading book >>

eBook Downloads
ePUB eBook
• iBooks for iPhone and iPad
• Nook
• Sony Reader
Kindle eBook
• Mobi file format for Kindle
Read eBook
• Load eBook in browser
Text File eBook
• Computers
• Windows
• Mac

Review this book

Popular Genres
More Genres
Paid Books