Writing On Literature

  • From I'm No More of an Idiot than Anyone Else I forget now which writers Lantelme liked best. Probably Flaubert, Racine, Balzac, de Maupassant, but I don't remember any discussions about the great Russian authors - Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Gogol, Gorky and the rest. And Lantelme wasn't a chauvinist! But why travel when his own mental landscape was so rich and cultured? He preferred to talk about Homer, Ovid and the Greek dramatists. I want to go back for a moment to the Cafe de la Liberte. The second book in French that I tried to read, and this one was much easier than the first, was New York by the author of Ouvert La Nuit and Ferme La Nuit -

    May 07,
  • From I'm No More of an Idiot than Anyone Else I was almost forty years old when I arrived in France. I knew three or four words - oui, non, Bonjour, Excusez-moi - and that's all. I never studied French at school. I chose to take four years of German instead. So I had to learn French quickly. I did this in the street, at the cinema, while popping out for the shopping. Everything I heard was new and novel, everything was a headache. Children used to mock me for my grammatical mistakes or my pronunciation. In restaurants, instead of saying 'I've finished' I used to say 'I have expired,' and so on. Eventually, after two years of this, Anais

    Nov 21,
  • From I'm No More of an Idiot Than Anyone Else. Mozart is perfection! I don't want anything to do with either him or his.  Me, I like a bit of imperfection.  Down with Leonardo!  Down with Flaubert and all that gang!  Down with the eighteenth century - Voltaire, d'Alembert, Diderot and all those people! Me, I like the monstrosities of Rabelais, Rimbaud, or Cendrars. A Hemingway doesn't speak to me.  Even Bach bores me sometimes.  In general I like those people who are a little bit (or a lot) mad. The imbecile, no!  The idiot, yes!  There's a big distinction between the two.  To be mad is to be a poet.  But it's the imbeciles who rule the world. More

    Oct 31,
  • from I'm no more of an idiot  than anyone else I've decided to write a little book in French.  I was encouraged to do this by Miss Sylvie Crossman, who is currently writing a thesis about me and my work.  She left here a few hours ago.  We agreed that I should keep all my grammatical faults, my errors, my bad punctation and my spelling mistakes.  At least, that's what I'll do if any publisher finds this project to their taste, n'est-ce pas? (You will see, dear reader, that throughout this book I'm going to repeat 'n'est-ce pas' as often I say in English 'don't you know?'  I've no idea where this bad habit comes from.  I hate it, but

    Oct 24,
  • There was once a time when instructions coming out of the TV were worth trying to follow.  This was in the days before - 'Who will leave the house?  You decide.'  I remember an episode of Dennis Potter's The Singing Detective, in which Michael Gambon was red and flaking in a hospital bed with Potter's unfictional psoriasis.  To cheer Gambon up, even though he was only acting, another character asks him for his favourite word in the English language. Fortunately, there was a pause.  But not a very long one. "Elbow,' I thought. 'Willow,' Potter/Gambon said. I liked this.  We were in the same area.  Both words had the same lament of an ending, and the middle curve of the l.  Potter's

    Oct 03,