The book that I publish under this title, "A Chambermaid's Diary," was really written by Mlle. Célestine R—————. chambermaid. When I was asked to revise the manuscript, to correct it, and to rewrite some parts of it, I refused at first, thinking, not without reason, that, just as it was, in all its disorder, this diary had a certain originality, a special savor, and that I could only render it commonplace by putting into it anything of myself. But Mlle. Célestine R————— was very pretty. She insisted. I finally yielded, for, after all, I am a man.
I confess that I was wrong. In doing this work which she asked of me, — that is, in adding here and there some accents to this book, — I am very much afraid that I have impaired its somewhat corrosive grace, diminished its sad power, and, above all, substituted simple literature for the emotion and life which these pages contained.
I say this to answer in advance the objections which certain grave and learned, and how noble, critics will not fail to raise.