Yes, it was true that at the end of the novel I had become accustom to or quiescently tolerant of the characters in L’Éducation sentimental: Frédéric, Mme Arnoux, la Maréchale, etc. but I was looking forward to what I would read next, Stendahl's Le Rouge et le Noir.
Elle se rassit; mais elle observait la pendule, et il continuait à marcher en fumant. Tous les deux ne trouvaient plus rien à se dire. Il y a un moment, dans les séparations, où la personne aimée n'est déjà plus avec nous.
She sat down again, but she kept looking at the clock, and he walked up and down the room, puffing at his cigarette. Neither of them could think of anything further to say to the other. There is a moment at the hour of parting when the person that we love is with us no longer.
L’Éducation sentimental Gustave Flaubert 1861, translated by Adrianne Tooke 2003. My emphasis.
When I visited the Palace de Versailles with Béatrice I felt the same empty melancholy that Flaubert has Frédéic feel when he visits the Château de Fontainebleau with Rosanette.
Furthermore this sadness is expressed in a sentence that pleases: "...the eternal wretchedness of all things; and this exhalation of the centuries, enervating and funereal, like the perfume of a mummy, makes itself felt even in untutored brains."
Royal residences have attached to them a peculiar kind of melancholy, due, no doubt, to their dimensions being much too large for the limited number of guests entertained within them, to the silence which one feels astonished to find in them after so many flourishes of trumpets, to the immobility of their luxurious furniture, which attests by the aspect of age and decay it gradually assumes the transitory character of dynasties, the eternal wretchedness of all things; and this exhalation of the centuries, enervating and funereal, like the perfume of a mummy, makes itself felt even in untutored brains. Rosanette yawned immoderately. They went back to the hotel.
L’Éducation sentimental Gustave Flaubert 1861, translated by M. Walter Dunne 1904.
Flaubert has a character, Charles Deslauriers—a friend of the protagonist Frédéric Moreau—mention a character drawn by Balzac in the Le Pere Goriot, (La Comédie Humaine), Eugene Rastignac: 'It worked well for Rastignac, it might well work for you,' he seems to say.
It gave rise to the French expression "Rastignac", a social climber willing to use any means to better his situation.
"...There's nothing so useful as to be a visitor at a rich man's house. Since you have a black coat and white gloves, make use of them. You must mix in that set. You can introduce me into it later. Just think!—a man worth millions! Do all you can to make him like you, and his wife, too. Become her lover!"
Frédéric uttered an exclamation by way of protest.
"Why, I can quote classical examples for you on that point, I rather think! Remember Rastignac in the Comédie Humaine. You will succeed, I have no doubt."
L'Éducation sentimentale 1869 Gustave Flaubert
A current of fresh air swept past them, and Madame Arnoux gazed vaguely into the distance. When the music stopped, she moved her eyes several times as if she were starting out of a dream.
The harpist approached them with an air of humility. While Monsieur Arnoux was searching his pockets for money, Frederick stretched out towards the cap his closed hand, and then, opening it in a discreet manner, he deposited in it a louis d'or. It was not vanity that had prompted him to bestow this alms in her presence, but the idea of a blessing in which he thought she might share—an almost religious impulse of the heart.
L’Éducation sentimental Gustave Flaubert 1861, translated by M. Walter Dunne 1904. My emphasis.