To the Editors:
May I comment on two statements by David Paul in his review of my two volumes of Gustave Flaubert’s letters in translation? (“The Two Flauberts,” September 1983.)
Mr. Paul says: “A pity that Mr. Steegmuller didn’t include a reproduction of Courbet’s magnificent portrait of Louise Colet en Amazone, instead of the two doll-like effigies he did include. Courbet gives us the real Louise …”
It is many years since the Metropolitan Museum removed the name of Louise Colet from the label on the Courbet portrait to which Mr. Paul refers. In the words of the museum: “Identification cannot be substantiated.” A scholar is obliged to rely on verified depictions, rather than conjectural ones.
Earlier in his article Mr. Paul says: “I fail to discern what Steegmuller calls, in his introduction to the second volume ... ‘the rich intellectual...