Draft reply to André Lang

   Monsieur,
   the first question you do me the honour to ask is not an issue for me. I think that schools represent only the time necessary for a man of genius to be recognized. Immediately the school is dissolved and the new master comes to take his place beside the ancients of whom he is the continuation. It may take a very long time. No interior political crisis, no exterior conflict comes as a surprise, when one considers that Olympia, so much in harmony with the Ingres in the Louvre, was the prohibited work, the horror before which the best judges of the period recoiled in shock. I like to say over and again that Baudelaire, the condemned poet, was the most Racinian of poets. There is no doubt that one of these two - and I am talking about Racine here - is more immoral than the other. But the style is the same. Of course, owing nothing to anyone else, their contribution differs most importantly in Racine with respect to the accumulation of psychological truths, in Baudelaire in that which concerns the laws governing recollection. The latter, nevertheless, pleases me better in Chateaubriand, in Gérard de Nerval, where we see it suddenly occur, disconcerting the narrative. It takes up more of a place in Baudelaire but in a static state.

Draft of Proust's reply to André Lang, c. October 1921, different from the version printed in Les Annales politiques et littéraires, 26 February 1922.

 


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