Full text: Secession (Number one) (1)

in the grand hall of the Aquitania on the Atlantic, or 
in an airplane volplaning felicitously down on Warsaw. 
The literature of Louis Aragon, André Breton, Paul 
Eluard, Philippe Soupault, Tristan Tzara is an exhilarating 
record. Tzara’s poems are as naturally expressive of the 
beauty of this age as Herrick’s are of the 17 th Century. 
With an utterly simple and unaffected touch they employ 
all the instruments of the time, the streetcar, the bill 
poster, the automobile, the incandescent light, etc. The 
poems are not modern because they indicate: „I was 
riding in the tramway" (instead of a diligence), but 
because the tramway gets into the very rhythm, form 
and texture of the poems. 
In the prose of Louis Aragon there is the speed and 
vividness of the motion picture, a constant and uproarious 
dialectic, and a volume and richness that is quite 
distinguished after so much thin and lucid French prose. 
The humor is not of human foibles so much as of 
smoothly functioning swiftly moving modern devices. 
The influences of the up-to-date detective and the 
American cinema are strongly evident. There are marvel 
ous American films whose characters, out of all the 
sincerity of the director’s heart, make the most pre 
posterous, imbecilic and imaginative gestures. There is 
much of this terrifying beauty in Aragon’s stories. 
Les Champs Magnétiques, which André Breton and 
Philippe Soupault wrote in collaboration is another com 
manding book of prose. It rejects plot as completely 
as Joyce’s Ulysses does, but goes even farther in 
disavowing even such a precise and inchoate verisimilitude 
as Joyce employs. The book achieves an upheaval of 
methods. Take a single sentence or a paragraph and 
it is, alone, rich-and-beautiful, but means nothing without 
its context. For the writers instead of attempting to 
express human drama by definite words or phrases 
indicating so many incidents or details, work for an 
effect of growth in their theme by a large continued 
rhythm. The prose changes its blend and intensity of 
light, spatters its broken tracts of conversation or cogita 
tion, gathering a large momentum through the succession 
of chapters rather than sentences. This is simply another 
case of literature coming abreast of modern painting 
or sculpture or music.

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