La Petite Fille aux yeux sombres ("The Little Girl With The Dark Eyes")

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First Edition

Paris, Julliard, 1984.
Written for Fortunio in 1921.


"After having worked as a tutor in several schools, his appointment in Marseille in 1920 allowed him to gather a few ex-students who used to write in Fortunio (a "literary, artistic and theatrical" magazine created by Marcel Pagnol and his friends in khâgne*), including Jean Ballard who, by dint of energy and intelligence, would pursue the release of Fortunio by providing it with an international reception under the title "Les Cahiers du Sud" until his death in 1973.
In October 1920, Fortunio was back in print, expanded with diverse local columns, with amazing phony interviews of some literary fame then settled in Indochina or in Tahiti, or with dress rehearsal reports sent by a "correspondent in Paris" who was nobody but Marcel. He recounts the difficulties he had to face (in the preface to "PIROUETTES"):
"I was the manager, chief-editor, editorial secretary, make-up man, for we never knew what articles would be included in the issue. "Each one of us required three pages, six pages, ten pages... But at the printing-house, it was a different story...". Marcel then decided to write an "extensible" serial paper designed to fill in the "blanks" left by unproductive collaborators. Most of the time, he would write his text in accordance with the layout requirements, leaning on the marble counter of the printing-house.
First, "LE MARIAGE DE PELUQUE" was published in 1932 by Fasquelle under the title "PIROUETTES". Then, "LA PETITE FILLE AUX YEUX SOMBRES" ("THE LITTLE GIRL WITH THE DARK EYES") was released in March 1921. There can be find several characters from "Le Mariage de Peluque" and, of course, Jacques Panier who is nobody but the author of the book, Louis-Irénée Peluque, eccentric philosopher and companion in his adventures. As in "PIROUETTES", Marcel Pagnol resorts to alternate narrative by various characters, which gives the account a touch of pleasant fantasy. The improvised narrative produced by the author, who did not have time to correct his text, reveals his deep feelings as to the mirage of love, his disillusionment before the frailty of beings and the inexorable passage of time."

*Translator's note: Khâgne is the second year of a two-year preparatory course for the arts section of the École Normale Supérieure.

Suddenly, I understood the role played by Grasset, and I figured out that he had taken advantage of my absence to implement his plan. We both aimed at the same goal: Jacques' recovery. But, when I offered to unite both lovebirds by any possible means, the maleficent poet was trying to tear them apart forever...
Most certainly, his method would have given the desired result: only little boys or little girls do believe that love is eternal. Extended separation destroys any type of love. But reconciliation and fulfillment of the loving desire is a very pleasant cure, and far quicker. Happy love will last six months; unhappy love may last six years. (Somebody once set those words to music; it is called "Pleasure of love". The author goes a little bit too far when he claims that "Grief of love lasts a lifetime". But, as the text is in verse, he had to exaggerate. In prose, I would say: "pleasure of love only lasts a moment, grief of love lasts almost twice longer).
A huge sadness swept through me when I thought about the doleful look in Jacques' eyes; an intense feeling of scorn spurred me as I thought that the poet had obtained immediate results and that he had basically cut the ground under my feet. (That phrase slipped out of me, and I take the opportunity to say that I think it stupid. Should the most skillful reaper attempt to do so, he would be far more likely to cut the feet on the ground than the ground under the feet.)