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Vain Fortune   By: (1852-1933)

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First Page:

[Illustration: "She slipped on her knees, and burst into a passionate fit of weeping."]

Vain Fortune

A Novel


George Moore

With Five Illustrations By Maurice Greiffenhagen

New Edition

Completely Revised

London: Walter Scott, Ltd. Paternoster Square


Edinburgh: T. and A. Constable, Printers to Her Majesty

Prefatory Note

I hope it will not seem presumptuous to ask my critics to treat this new edition of Vain Fortune as a new book: for it is a new book. The first edition was kindly noticed, but it attracted little attention, and very rightly, for the story as told therein was thin and insipid; and when Messrs. Scribner proposed to print the book in America, I stipulated that I should be allowed to rewrite it. They consented, and I began the story with Emily Watson, making her the principal character instead of Hubert Price. Some months after I received a letter from Madam Couperus, offering to translate the English edition into Dutch. I sent her the American edition, and asked her which she would prefer to translate from. Madam Couperus replied that many things in the English edition, which she would like to retain, had been omitted from the American edition, that the hundred or more pages which I had written for the American edition seemed to her equally worthy of retention.

She pointed out that, without the alteration of a sentence, the two versions could be combined. The idea had not occurred to me; I saw, however, that what she proposed was not only feasible but advantageous. I wrote, therefore, giving her the required permission, and thanking her for a suggestion which I should avail myself of when the time came for a new English edition.

The union of the texts was no doubt accomplished by Madam Couperus, without the alteration of a sentence; but no such accomplished editing is possible to me; I am a victim to the disease of rewriting, and the inclusion of the hundred or more pages of new matter written for the American edition led me into a third revision of the story. But no more than in the second has the skeleton, or the attitude of the skeleton been altered in this third version, only flesh and muscle have been added, and, I think, a little life. Vain Fortune , even in its present form, is probably not my best book, but it certainly is far from being my worst. But my opinion regarding my own work is of no value; I do not write this Prefatory Note to express it, but to ask my critics and my readers to forget the original Vain Fortune , and to read this new book as if it were issued under another title.



The lamp had not been wiped, and the room smelt slightly of paraffin. The old window curtains, whose harsh green age had not softened, were drawn. The mahogany sideboard, the threadbare carpet, the small horsehair sofa, the gilt mirror, standing on a white marble chimney piece, said clearly, 'Furnished apartments in a house built about a hundred years ago.' There were piles of newspapers, there were books on the mahogany sideboard and on the horsehair sofa, and on the table there were various manuscripts, The Gipsy , Act I.; The Gipsy , Act III., Scenes iii. and iv.

A sheet of foolscap paper, and upon it a long slender hand. The hand traced a few lines of fine, beautiful caligraphy, then it paused, correcting with extreme care what was already written, and in a hesitating, minute way, telling of a brain that delighted in the correction rather than in the creation of form.

The shirt cuff was frayed and dirty. The coat was thin and shiny. A half length figure of a man drew out of the massed shadows between the window and sideboard. The red beard caught the light, and the wavy brown hair brightened. Then a look of weariness, of distress, passed over the face, and the man laid down the pen, and, taking some tobacco from a paper, rolled a cigarette. Rising, and leaning forward, he lighted it over the lamp. He was a man of about thirty six feet, broad shouldered, well built, healthy, almost handsome... Continue reading book >>

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