Full text: The little review (12 (1926), 1)

and one silly game after another. A new style was invented: by 
drinking quantities of beer and writing as fast as you could in 
competition with others after three or four hours you were so 
dazed that your subconscious began working. 
There is a specific issue, however, on which I, (we, if I may 
speak for a few others) part company with them. The French 
are by nature a race of litterateurs, artists. To write a poem is 
easier for instance, than not to write a poem. Therefore art is 
become a contemptible thing and the most snobbish and the most 
nobly logical way is to commit artistic suicide. If Aragon, who 
is a born writer and cannot help writing well, turns up with a 
poem every evening, Breton treats him with unstinted displeas 
ure. “You must kill this instinct to write; it is trivial, despic 
able, facile.” Then there is the growing belief that art is by 
no means the universal expression for man’s exalted leisure 
moments. That in itself is a long story. But why in heaven’s 
name should it concern us here? In America we live in storm 
cellars or country-retreats. It is bitter to survive; it is bitter 
to find ears. We are not naturally a race of writers and artists. 
It is still a thrilling struggle to be that here. Stealthily, to have 
done something well in the line of our own traditions remains 
a secret delight and a social crime. The bleakness of our situa 
tion here compared with the easy brilliance of my friends’ in 
Paris (where Doucet the gownmaker collects mss. of Jacques 
Baron, aged 17) calls for a reserve of vitality and courage that 
is scarcely ever needed there. For this reason, one may be happy 
here, although the consuls in the skyscrapers still turn their 
thumbs down for us, and our position remains desperate and 
precarious enough. 
Again the literary production of the super-realists is bastard. 
Of what value are these tedious and tepid dreams, these diffuse 
poems in prose, these wearisome manifestoes couched in an 
habitual imagery and an inverted syntax. They have begun with 
logic; let them cast off their literary robes; let them speak rea 
sonably. Their field is the quartier St. Denis, in a barricade. 
Revolution, the race-track, the political arena, the stock market. 
Sell the French franc until the government falls again and again. 
Betray the country! Go over to the Riffs! (*) But no, they 
cannot quit being litterateurs. And I find their literature con 
temptible and woefully easy to account for. How pretentious 
and literary, after all, is this: 
Pour peu que m'y sollicite la fievre, je m’y trouverais plus 
dispos qu } en Vhabituelle luddite. 
In the several months which have intervened since first writing this protest events have con 
spired to give my words an air of prophecy: news has come recently that the Dadas, alias Super 
realists, have shifted their objectives to political revolution, the majority turning Bolshevist and the 
others Fascist. Breton, Aragon and Soupault, who were the founders of LittSrature, have now 
taken over Clarfi, the radical weekly, and named it La Guerre CivileI

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