George Sand to Liszt, July-August 1835: "Yes, Franzi, I am still in that deserted house; alone, absolutely alone, never opening the outside door except to admit a cenobitic dinner, and I cannot recall having known sweeter and purer days..."

Editor: That house belonged to her new lover, Louis-Chrysostom Michel, and actually she spent most of her time with him.

"It is a great comfort to me, I assure you, to realize that my spirit has not kept watch for so long that it has become inured to the joys of its vibrant younger days.... The closer I get to life's decline, the more I savor, piously and justly, the generous and providential things that it has to offer. On the far side of the hill, I pause and descend slowly, casting a loving, admiring glance at the beauties of the place I leave behind..."

Editor: Sand had just turned 31.

From Charles Suttoni's collection of Liszt's letters. The footnotes are delightful. Liszt at 25 is pompous and fussy, really smug about playing Beethovan under some other composer's name and the audience applauding it less. "If I submitted Moby Dick today..." of the 1830s.

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Some good ideas and true observations about the creative life, but damn if he wasn't a terrible writer, at least at the age of 25—haven't gotten farther than that yet.

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