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Blame it on Eve by Nelly Roussel

Translated and adapted by Frank J. Morlock

(1913)

 

The action takes place in earthly paradise. Charming decor with heavy shadows, green lawns, mossy grottoes, singing cascades and clear horizons, with everywhere in bunches, garlands and a mad debauchery of flowers. Adam and Eve dressed in flimsy tunics are half stretched out on benches of greenery. Adam serene, Eve depressed.

 

EVE: (with a deep sigh) Ah!

ADAM: Why that sigh?

EVE: I'm bored!

ADAM: You're bored? Oh! that's a strange word. And I have trouble to picture to myself the condition of the soul that it represents. How can anyone experience in this place anything else but pleasure and serenity? Isn't everything here joined, in profusion, for the enchantment of our senses? The harmonious entwining of lines and the shocking contrast of colours, the concert of tender voices, passionate or mirthful, the marriage of subtle perfumes and powerful aromas, the soft caress of warm and gentle air, and the savor of fresh, sweet fruits dressed with down. Don't we reign over a nation of superb and sweet animals, who love us and coaxingly seek warmth at your knees? Are we not, in the end, the masters, happy and free, of this magnificent garden, so vast, that outside of it nothing more exists? As for me, I cannot dream of a greater felicity. And to enjoy blissfully so many sensual pleasures when rendering thanks to the Lord who made them for me extracted from mud — appears to me an occupation infinitely agreeable, and completely satisfying.

EVE: But how monotonous, alas! Ah! surely, I too, in the past was ravished by all this. Happy to breathe, to see and to feel, intoxicated with space and light, I had, during the first days, exhausted all the joys. I had the flowers one by one, avidly smelled, then opened to try to perceive their soul and the source of their perfume. I ran about the great woods with love, all sentient, attentive to their secret shudders, palpating the leaves, the mosses, the barks, tearing them apart to discover the intimate life of insects and to recognize the flesh of trees. And one time, seated on a river shore, letting its cool waves spread with delight over my naked feet, I sought to grasp the sensation of its murmur, asking of it from whence it came, where it was going. Now, that's over. Nothing more interests me because I feel there's nothing more to be revealed. These very docile animals, with empty eyes, no longer amuse me, I scorn them: the ever-blue heaven weighs on my head; so much serenity depresses me, and the uninterrupted succession of similar days and nights, is for me an endless torture renewed. Ah! I am bored! I am bored!

ADAM: Strange creature! Why what would you do then?

EVE: I want something new, unknown, extraordinary. I would have — (dreaming) the only thing I cannot have; that's the only thing that can tempt me.

ADAM: (uneasy) What do you mean?

EVE: (responding less to him than to herself and her interior dream) The flower — the beautiful flower of science, the mysterious and forbidden flower.

(Slowly, she turns her gaze towards the corner of paradise where stands, solitary and splendid, the forbidden flower, very high so that a human can breathe it without being able to harvest it.)

ADAM: (shocked) Shut up, woman, shut up! The Lord hears everything!

EVE: Eh! what do I care? Is it then forbidden to speak of it?

ADAM: Yes, to speak of it is already too much. Even to think of it is criminal.

EVE: (avidly) But why, after all, this absurd prohibition, that is unexplained and unjustifiable?

ADAM: You blaspheme. The plans of the Lord are impenetrable, and his orders are sacred. He spoke: we ought, in silence, and without seeking to understand, obey.

EVE: (standing, rebellious) Well, no! God, by giving us intelligence which conceives, reason which disputes, words which express, God himself prepared and dictated our rebellion. And I am no longer resolved to admit what I cannot understand.

(She takes a step toward the forbidden flower.)

ADAM: (standing in his turn, outlining a gesture to restrain her) What are you going to do?

EVE: Release me. (She disengages and slowly continues to walk towards the flower. Then, quite near it, invoking it with an ecstatic shiver.) O formidable flower, and so beautiful! Unique object of my desires. No question it is incomparable, your inaccessible perfume! And that it is a marvelous secret that sleeps in the high and velvet cup of your corolla! Ah! to feel your sweetness between my trembling fingers! To plunge my avid nose into your mysterious heart! To breathe your soul, o flower of Science! No, this cannot be evil! It is virtue, justice, wisdom. It is happiness, too, and I want it!

(She seizes the stalk. Adam, who has listened, breathlessly rushes with a scream of anguish. But he is too late; the sacrilege has been consummated. Triumphantly, Eve holds the forbidden fruit aloft.)

ADAM: (recoiling, altered) What have you done?

EVE: (without listening to him, holding the flower to her nose) Oh! the bitter and still delicious aroma! (she smells it) How it pleases me! (she breathes it for a long while) How it troubles me! (she smells it again) How it intoxicates me! (visionary) It seems to me that something is surrounding me and that I am climbing (more and more exalted), I am climbing and everything is recoiling, everything is enlarging, everything is transfigured! I am climbing and I perceive marvelous things, a bit terrible, too, and which are attracting me. (with a delirious laugh) Ah! ah! we thought we were seeing, but we were blind. We thought we knew the limits of the world, but the world is infinite! (to Adam, offering him the flower, without turning her illuminated eyes from the vision) Take it, take it, the magic flower, friend. Breathe it, drink its breath and come contemplate the prodigy.

(Adam, who is at first terrified, then astonished, then fascinated, having bit by bit approached his companion, seizes the flower avidly to bear it to his nose. Soon, a roll of thunder is heard, and a terrible angel appears, with a blazing sword in his hand.)

ANGEL: Wretch! What have you done!

ADAM: (all his exaltation collapsed, lowering his head with a shiver) Alas!

ANGEL: Yes, you may shiver, fool who dared to transgress the commands and to affront the wrath of God!

ADAM: (throwing himself on his knees) Pardon! Pardon! (pointing to Eve) She's the one who wanted it.

EVE: (erect and disdainful) Poor man —

ANGEL: To the grandeur of the offense, God tailors the punishment. On you, woman, he will weigh most heavily and most terribly, and much lower even than that of the man who must bend your proud face. Ingrates, cast a final glance at the splendors which surround you, and that you will never see again. The Lord takes back the wealth of benefits that you did not know how to protect. Go lose yourself in this world you wanted to know. There you will find suffering, fear, famine, cold, discontent: you will eat a bitter bread, paid by your struggles, watered by your tears. There you will be among the unchained instincts, perils without number, weaker and more abandoned than a straw in a storm. Get out! God drives you out! And your race is cursed forever.

ADAM: (still on his knees in an outburst of despair) Ah! why did I listen to you, temptress! you have ruined us.

(Adam bursts into tears.)

EVE: (determined and proud) No, Adam, I saved us! Rise, your tears are cowardly, and your reproaches unjust. What they call punishment — as for me, I call it deliverance! Look! I am leaving without turning my head, not leaving anything here of me except the heavy cloak of boredom that has finally fallen from my shoulders and the veil that, covering my eyes, stole from them the true light. (taking Adam's hand, who has stood up, little by little, and pulling him) Come, friend, give me your hand. Let's enter without fear and without regret into the immense unknown of the world. Come towards the battles which bruise and the conquests that intoxicate; come towards the anguish which tortures and love that consoles. Come towards action, and towards dreaming; towards shadows which little by little clear off, and towards horizons which constantly enlarge; come towards the eternal discovery, and the mystery that is ceaselessly reborn. Come towards all the sorrows, all the hope, all the pride! In the end come towards life, enormous, tumultuous life! Come! Come! We have not yet lived; we are going to live.

(And erect, proud, hands joined, eyes fixed on the distance, before the motionless and implacable angel, they leave.)

CURTAIN

 
 
 

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