A study of Victor Hugo by Fernand Gregh.

   "A critic is a person who interferes in what does not concern him", said Mallarmé in one of his profound and frivolous comments which, in his work, set against his dark poetry, act as a delightful counter-balance of lightness.
But, indeed, a poet, a true poet, a great poet, interferes in "what does concern him" when he reads the work of Hugo aloud to us, making each verse touch us, tingle and shine like a priceless stone, shows us, in each emerald, that it "conceals in its facets"

an undine with a clear brow

and helps us to continue to make sport, in the jewels with which the most opulent of our contemporary poets adorn themselves, of such a similarity with undines which here he denounces secretly and there he salutes fraternally. Here is a beautiful book that M. Fernand Gregh has just written, with a simplicity, with a frankness, one is tempted to say, in the good and popular sense of the word, with a vulgarity, which is like a supplementary promise of its longevity:
"For posterity home-baked bread is worth more than delicacies", said Sainte-Beuve, who will ever remain a pastry-cook.
   In the midst of this beautiful prose, the celebrated poetry of Clartés humaines: Rêve stands out in a pure harmony of light, like a rock among the waves, bathed with their reflections, extending their shadows thither. The poetry of the thinker is at ease and in its element in the midst of this prose of the poet who has at every turn added some graceful embroidery to it.
   "The foam casts its white muslin over a rock".
   And in this robust but neglected book, F. Gregh has employed all his profound intelligence, his surest sensibility, his goodheartedness and all his delightful wit.

Marc Antoine.

Article appeared in Gil Blas, Wednesday 14 December 1904 and reprinted in Chroniques (Libraire Gallimard, 1927).

Return to Front Page