Books: The Variable Constant

CECILS (125 pp.)—Benjamin Constant —New Directions ($2.50).

Both Charlotta von Hardenberg and Madame de Staël had handsome figures, but the only other thing they had in common was Benjamin Constant. Charlotta was sweet and submissive, Madame de Stael brilliant but tyrannical. Constant couldn't make up his mind. Shuttling back and forth between them, the famed French intellectual debated for 15 years over which one he should take and which he should leave. Cécile is his demonstration of how variable a Constant can be.

Lost for almost a century and a half, Cécile (probable date: 1811) is not the novel scholars were led to...

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