Why is this novel not more famous, and why don’t people write like this anymore?
"He welcomed me politely, but was so full of his own importance that I was made to feel the value he attached to himself rather than to me. He invited me to lunch, and conversation was constrained and awkward, as it must always be with a man who has no genuine feelings about anything, and whose mind is at the exclusive service of his vanity.
He spoke to me solely about himself, without noticing in the slightest whether or not my interest corresponded to the liveliness of his own. When he thought he was about to make a witty remark, his little eyes shone with irrepressible joy; he looked at me after he spoke to judge whether I had managed to understand, and when his vanity was soothed, he resumed a commanding look out of respect for his own character…
After an hour devoted to lunch, he rose and carefully explained how he was obliged to leave me by imperative matters instigated by the goodness of his heart…I saw that he was looking at me benevolently to soften the pain I must certainly suffer from his absence.”
Another gem from this novel…
"I will smother everything that sets me apart from other women - spontaneous thoughts, passionate impulses, generous bursts of enthusiasm - but I shall avoid suffering, dreaded suffering. My existence will be concentrated entirely in my reason, and I shall pass through life thus armed against both myself and others.”
All from Mme Germaine de Stael’s Delphine, published in 1802.