A literary circle is meeting to discuss a novel called The Golden Fruits. The members of the group pride themselves on their artistic expertise, both for visual and for written works, and on their critical acumen. One member takes a postcard reproduction of a Gustave Courbet painting from his vest pocket and passes it among the members to gauge their opinions on the postcard’s value. Everyone, with the exception of one man, looks at the reproduction and affirms its artistic worth, reenforcing the possessor’s sense of expertise and sound critical judgment. However, one person passes the reproduction on without even glancing at it, devastating the man who owns the postcard.
A conversation ensues between the man who ignored the reproduction and the person to whom he passed it. Accused of impoliteness, of causing agony to the possessor, the man defends his right not to enter into the foolish charade of admiration. He feels that the Courbet is familiar to everyone in the circle and insists that they all probably have one just like it themselves. He adds that the possessor of the reproduction had not discovered anything unique, nor had he shared some sort of secret. The other person continues to blame the man for refusing to interact in the fraternity of the group.
The conversation then passes to the discussion of The Golden Fruits. The person who had been appalled by the other man’s rudeness makes a gesture toward the...
(The entire section is 568 words.)