One day, in the middle of a long literary conversation, Théodore Duret said to me: “I have known in my life two men of supreme intelligence. I knew of both before the world knew of either. Never did I doubt, nor was it possible to doubt, but that they would one day or other gain the highest distinctions—those men were Léon Gambetta and Émile Zola.” Of Zola I am able to speak, and I can thoroughly realise how interesting it must have been to have watched him, at that time, when he was poor and unknown, obtaining acceptance of his articles with difficulty, and surrounded by the feeble and trivial in spirit, who, out of inborn ignorance and acquired idiocy, look with ridicule on those who believe that there is still a new word to say, still a new cry to cry.
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