Essays: Cuts and Bruises |
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Cuts and Bruises

by Frederic Raphael

An angry film director: ‘You wouldn’t talk to me like that if I had my writers with me.’

The collapse of religion also impoverishes secular philosophy. In the elimination of illusion, the scope of truth also contracts. A low church of ideas, without mystery, without charm, without beauty, takes the place of Higher Things. The seven new devils are moving into the exorcised house.

The future is in the storage-jars which, after Daedalus’ flight, were discovered to be empty.

Hypocrisy partakes of something noble. Who is more devoid of human interest than those with nothing to hide?

Aesthetic movements seek to recruit artists into marching in step; which is all that is required for them to abandon art.

One sensed in their presence the relic of some distant and festering regret. Yet they had known each other only a short time. What one took for their past still lay ahead of them.

There are falsenesses in the choice of any single and consistent style. The snobbery of Proust is more manifest in the grandiose architecture of the mausoleum in which he enshrines his characters than in the genealogies of those to whom he offers privileged places. In similar style, in order to eulogise the Brideshead clan, Evelyn Waugh elevated his prose to the peerage.

When someone says that he is sincerely pleased that something has happened to you, he usually means that he is not interested in having it happen to him.

The more abiding our resentment of a critic, the more likely that his criticism was just. Who gives a second thought to a good notice?

It is very fine to tell the truth, but what matters is to whom one has the nerve to tell it.

Why write aphorisms? To help the mind lose weight.

At dinner with Isherwood and Don Bachardy, George gave us a recent instance of T.’s wit: ‘If Gar and Ruth Gordon ever get a divorce, who will have custody of the anecdotes?’

Hotel ashtrays: incitements to steal what you would be appalled to be given.

Truth is the bungalow in which philosophers are still angry not to find a staircase.




André Gide's Journals have been on the windowsill in the lavatory at Lagardelle for years. I had not been able to read more than a paragraph or two at a time. Muggeridge saying he was like a great cathedral in which something has gone wrong with the drains has confirmed my feeling that Gide was rightly shelved in the loo. In a section I read this morning, G. refers to the way in which authors, and subjects, one has spurned in the past, come to take their revenge. He is an instance in my case. No writer in the modern canon was less congenial to me, but if he continues to improve, I may have to bring him into the dining room.

“Gide was probably referring to Marcel Proust, whose work he rejected for Gaston Gallimard’s NRF. Despite Gide’s denials (and George Painter’s assertions), Proust’s beloved housekeeper Céleste Albaret insists that the manuscript was never even opened. It had been tied with a distinctive knot and was returned with it intact. Gide (Céleste’s ‘Faux Moine’) had dismissed Marcel as a ‘dandy mondain’, and could not be bothered to read the fat text. Marcel then paid the costs of its publication, by Bernard Grasset, and had a great success. Gaston Gallimard ate humble pie, and begged to publish later volumes. Proust agreed, but took revenge by receiving Gide, only once, very civilly, in order to hear his recantation.”

Gide adopted literature rather than engendered it. He can be imagined, protective and very slightly disgusting, shepherding his small Muse through improving places, patting it on the head and covertly relishing the prospect of its little friends coming to tea. He said few memorable things. His evangelical pederasty seems to have little purpose other than to justify his taste; one might as well make a moral virtue of garlic butter. What finally wins one’s admiration is his determination not to have time for anything except serious work.