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For various reasons I have been going back to first principles, ie.
reading Symon's book on the symbolists. When one comes back to it
with the background of 30 odd years, it is like a different book.

Anyway, the essay on La Forgue echoes Eliot's style (shall we say pose ?)
hauntingly. I know he credited La Forgue as an influence, but this is
something more. I could believe Eliot even deliberately used Symon's picture
of La Forgue as a mask:

"The prose and verse of Laforgue, scrupulously correct, but with a new
manner of correctness, owe more than any one has realised to the
half-unconscious prose and verse of Rimbaud. Verse and prose are alike a
kind of travesty, making subtle use of colloquialism, slang, neologism,
technical terms, for their allusive, their factitious, their reflected
meanings, with which one can play, very seriously. The verse is alert,
troubled, swaying, deliberately uncertain, hating rhetoric so piously
that it prefers, and finds its piquancy in, the ridiculously obvious. It
is really vers libre, but at the same time correct verse, before vers
libre had been invented. And it carries, as far as that theory has ever
been carried, the theory which demands an instantaneous notation
(Whistler, let us say) of the figure or landscape which one has been
accustomed to define with such rigorous exactitude. Verse, always
elegant, is broken up into a kind of mockery of prose."

And then there is the remark:

"In La Forgue sentiment is squeezed out of the world before one begins
to play ball with it." Dare it remind you of some overwhelming question?

Perhaps this is old hat for most. I just never paid attention to it before.

Cheers,
Peter



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