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Malcolm Cowley sur Aragon


Lettre à Kenneth Burke du 4 juin 1923

"I have been intending to write you a letter about Louis Aragon," I said on June 4 [1923], "for his is a character which demands a long explanation... Imagine this elegant young man, from a family whose social position is above reproach: a young man so gifted that the word 'genius' must have been applied to him ever since he was four years old and wrote his first novel. A brilliant career stretches in front of him. He has read everything and mastered it. Suddenly, at a given age, he rejects his family and social connections and, with a splendid disdain acquired from his early successes, begins to tell everybody exactly what he thinks. And he continues to be successful. He has so much charme, when he wishes to use it, that il takes him years to make an enemy; but by force of repeated insults he succeeds in this aim also. He retains all that hatred of compromise which is the attribute of youth - and of a type of youth we never wholly possessed. He disapproves of La Nouvelle Revue Française; therefore he refuses to write for it, although all other channels of publication are closed to him already.
"He lives literature. If I told him that a poem of Baudelaire's was badly written, he would be capable of slapping my face. He judges a writer largely by his moral qualities, such as courage, vigor of feeling, the refusal of compromise. He proclaims himself a romantic. In practice this means that his attitude toward women is abominable; he is either reciting poetry, which soon ceases to interest them, or trying to sleep with them, which they say becomes equally monotonous. He is always seriously in love; he never philanders. Often he is a terrible bore. He is an egoist and vain, but faithful to his friends... I have met other people whose work is interesting, but Aragon is the only one to impose himself by force of character. I ought to add that he has a doglike affection for André Breton.
"My apologies for this long digression, but I think it will explain a good deal." Aragon, indeed, was affecting me more than I liked to admit. Under his influence I was becoming a Dadaist in spite of myself, was adopting many of the Dada standards, and was even preparing to put them into action.

Malcolm Cowley, [Lettre à Kenneth Burke, 04.06.1923], cité dans Malcolm Cowley [1934], nouvelle édition de 1961, p. 163-164

Les points de suspension se trouvent dans le livre de Malcolm Cowley.

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