Sunday, 6 January 2013

"Mlle de Bauret had a taste for literature and the arts, but her literary knowledge only began with the end of the nineteenth century - in other words it was non-existent. She saw and judged the world through the pet theories of a few fashionable authors: for example, she honestly believed that every man had been in love with his mother as a child, and if someone confessed to her that he had been tempted to push a stranger under a tram, she would say to him: 'You've been reading too much Gide' - at which her companion would stare at her blankly, having never heard of the author of Les Nourritures Terestres. She proclaimed a cinema clown called Charlie Chaplin a genius. When she lapsed in to reverie, she called it an 'interior monologue'. When M. de Coantré told her that Uncle Octave was reluctant to face reality, she translated it into her jargon thus: 'He is taking refuge in escapism.' And so on. This infantilism of mind gave her, at the age of twenty-five, the same sort of silliness as a sixteen-year-old who enters the class of philosophy and discovers the human mind and soul through the manuals of M. Paulin Malapert. In politics, needless to say, Mlle de Bauret had progressive ideas.
Mlle de Bauret's real failing, which was partly the failing of her age and partly of the period in which she lived, was that she regarded novelty as synonymous with value. This is a sure sign of barbarism: in any society, it is always the people with the lowest intelligence who long to be 'in the swim'. Incapable of assessing anything by thier own taste, culture and discrimination, they automatically judge a problem in accordance with the principle that what is new is true."

- Henry de Montherlant (The Bachelors, 1934).

Picture: "Amusement" by Kees van Dongen (1914).

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