A Night in the Luxembourg Summary
by Rémy de Gourmont

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A Night in the Luxembourg Summary

(Essentials of European Literature)

When James Sandy Rose, foreign correspondent for the Northern Atlantic Herald, died, the newspapers printed only a part of the circumstances surrounding his death. Among his personal effects was a diary which threw more light upon his private experience and belief. In this diary Rose related how he had gone to the Luxembourg and had noticed a peculiar light shining through the windows of the Church of Saint-Sulpice. His curiosity aroused, he went into the church and discovered a man standing before the statue of the Virgin. At first glance the man was very ordinary looking, but when he looked at Rose there was something striking and attractive in his appearance. Rose merely called the man “He” in long passages of the diary that reported a discussion between them on philosophical and religious subjects.

This strange man strongly resembled the Jesus that many artists have painted. Rose followed the man out into the garden, which had suddenly become clothed in summer foliage. There they met three beautiful women, one of whom was called Elise. In that pastoral setting their conversations concerning divinity, religion, and philosophy continued. In a short interlude between discussions Rose and Elise had an affair.

“He” informed Rose that Epicurus and Spinoza were nearer to “Him” than anyone else, including the saints. “He” also told the reporter that the gods are superior but not immortal—they merely live longer. Destiny is the creator and the regulator of the world. There is no truth because the world is perpetually changing. The Acts of the Apostles were no more miraculous than those in “Aladdin and the Marvelous Lamp,” but the men who wrote of those Acts touched God with their hands. Man’s superiority to the animal world, particularly the termites, was brought about by the lowering of the world’s temperature. Civilizations came into being because of the discoveries of fire and leisure. Lucretius’ poem concerning Epicurus would have been a greater book for mankind than the Bible. Men will perhaps never recover from the wound given them by Christianity. Great hypocrites are always the chosen masters of the world. Suicide is not an act of cowardice. Happiness for men is not possession but desire. The difference between the girl of a public harem and a goddess is only a difference created by social custom and its conception of sin.

When “He” departed, Rose took Elise with him and went to his lodgings. There Rose died mysteriously, leaving no trace as to the exact manner of his death. In his rooms there were evidences of the presence of a woman but nothing else of importance except the diary he had written.