Random Quote #67 topic: zola-dictionary, A Zola Dictionary; the Characters of the Rougon-Macquart Novels of Emile Zola, Patterson, J. G
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HALLEGRAIN (CHRISTINE), daughter of the preceding, was born at
Strasburg. Her father died when she was twelve years old, and her
mother, who had a severe struggle to make a living for herself and her
child, only survived him five years. Christine was left penniless
and unprotected, without a friend, save La Mere des Saints-Anges, the
Superior of the Sisters of the Visitation, who kept her in the convent
until she got a situation as reader and companion to Madame Vanzade, an
old lady who lived in Paris. Chance led to a meeting between Christine
and Claude Lantier on the evening of her arrival in the city, and the
acquaintanceship ripened into love. Ultimately she ran off with him, and
they took up house at Bennecourt, where they lived happily for several
years, a son being born to them in 1860. She was devoted to Claude,
who was engrossed in his art, and when she saw that he was becoming
discontented in the country she urged his return to Paris. There he
became obsessed by the idea of a masterpiece, by means of which he
was to revolutionize the world of art, and Christine allowed him to
sacrifice their child and herself to his hopes of fame. They began to
encroach on the principal of their small fortune, and while this lasted
were not unhappy, though Claude's increasing mental disturbance already
gave cause for anxiety. Their marriage had taken place some time
previously, and this had tended to make her position more comfortable.
The exhaustion of their means was followed by great hardships, but
Christine continued to sacrifice everything to her husband. The death of
their child drew him away from his task for a time, but he again took
it up, his mind becoming more and more unhinged. Christine made a last
effort to detach him, but the call of his masterpiece was too strong,
and one morning she found him hanging in front of the picture, dead. She
fell on the floor in a faint, and lay there to all appearance as dead as
her husband, both of them crushed by the sovereignty of art. L'Oeuvre.



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