Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Léautaud, Pla, Ribeyro

Paul Léautaud's monumental diary is endlessly fascinating (it seems that only some of the earliest volumes have been published in English translation, and anyone seeking to publish translations of the rest of them would have to secure the rights from the French society for the protection of animals, to which the never-married and childless Léautaud left the rights to his work), and references to it sometimes turn up in somewhat surprising spots. In the Spanish translation of Josep Pla's diary, El cuaderno gris, for instance, one comes across an undated note consisting almost entirely of an entry taken from Léautaud. It is introduced by Pla with the simple words "an opinion":
Paul Léautaud
Verses are clearly a childish thing. People who write things in rhythmic patterns, to particular beats, each line ending in similar sounds, that singsong of a child's reciting--at bottom, it's ridiculous. I've thought for a long time that if I had a son and he had a literary bent or even an inclination for the life of the mind I'd keep all the poets from him, even though I don't like being a guide in that field. Those people cause you to waste a lot of time when it comes to the development of the mind. I wasted at least fifteen years letting myself be lulled by their nonsense. And the novel? How can a man, at fifty, still write novels? How can a person even read them? Poetry and novel--they are certainly the lower forms of literature.

Léautaud also makes several appearances in Julio Ramón Ribeyro's La tentación del fracaso, yet another excellent diary not available in English (it is published in Spanish through 1978; the diaries from later years, still only in manuscript, are being held in a bank vault in Paris). Ribeyro, perhaps not surprisingly, refers to Léautaud's "atrocious" death, which he approached with complete lucidity and surrounded by a menagerie of animals. Foutez-moi la paix, he supposedly said on his deathbed. Leave me the fuck alone.

No comments:

Post a Comment