Some Aspects of British-French relations in pre-war magazines
In the magazine “Maintenant”, Special issue of October, November 1913, “Oscar Wild is alive”, the poet describe his struggle and incapacity for originality at the moment in Paris. He is wondering between describing romantically his feeling but through the reality of the present moment. As he is describing himself of being ‘paresseux’ lazy to make change, he has recourse to a surrealistic and imaginary visit of the defunct Oscar Wild. I find this article very interesting because it doesn’t follow the French trend of evolution through revolution by rejecting all the past, or being nationalist in the search for a French cultural identity. In the contrary the writer seeks for an international ‘British’ inspiration of the defunct Oscar Wild. In a way we can realize a continuity and not brusque rupture with the past which is quite different from the French tradition of quarrels between Ancients and Moderns that ends with the victory of the moderns and the abolition of the ancients’ literature model. We can see a combination of French romanticism, symbolism and realism all fused together in a surrealist pursue of a definition of something not given yet.
In this article we find reciprocity between past and present as well as between respect for the French classicism -the place and time unites- and Dead poet Oscar Wild’s visit which come to break this unity as a surrealist conquest for a more modernist French Literature. Somewhere between reality and dream the writer is trying to find out how to escape l’ennui of the French classic literature. There is a recall from the past through the example of Voltaire success at both levels as anti-dogmatic ideology and free spirit writings which the poet put in comparison with his incapability for the moment –Maintenant- of achieving similar success in the present status quo. Nevertheless, his revolutionary ‘état d’âme’ tainted with Ennui et Mélancolie has no effect. In a poem the poet describe his revolution as a lion sleeping on the sand but all he can do is swing his hand and indeed strangle it. In his eyes French literature Maintenant is a “ta ta ta ta ta” and needs inspiration from the Oscar Wild modernity. Oscar Wild represents an international literature that the French needs to consider and follow its modernist foot steps without radical rupture with the past. This interpretation is well articulated when the poet raise his tone in page 5. While science is developing and the world is discovering modernity, I am still in Paris and I am too weak and lazy to be able to break free.
Finally, there is a call to open the door for breaking the classicism in order to pursue the exploration. Art is exploration of an absolute unreachable,.. Oscar Wild is described to be « more Muscial than plastique » and laugthing continuously … into and inside the absolute « riait continuellement … dans l’absolu ». In this special issue the rebel Sébastien Melmoth is or should never stop his creative production through inspiring other poets. Oscar Wild is described as a cheerful music that goes for eternity. In a Nietzsche interpretation the poet seem to be recalling for a self realization through a stimulated sensibility through culture that should be free from chains and internalized to be transformative as there is no eternal or absolute facts but there is a historical philosophy that the artist need to understand and assess its development and its process of creation. Pursuing this thought, the French writer call not for change as there is no final word in arts but there is a continuous activity of exploring and comprehending the human life and experience through aesthetic values to attain satisfaction and contention.