Critique of contemporary French literature
Like a star-gazer who would tell us that astronomy is vanity, yet offers in exchange his own descriptions and fancies of the hour, so this contemporary literature of dilettantism thinks of life as a mere phantasmagoria, pleasant to observe but vain to understand. Moreover, amid true and false, good and ill, why limit our interest by any preference? Renan was founder of the school, Jules Lemaltre and Anatole France are its leaders, Maurice Barres its exaggerator. Their qualities and defects are manifest; charm of style and fancy, wide and varied interests, subtle perceptions, refined enjoyment: but corresponding lack of interpretation and of judgment, paralysis of will, incapacity even of conceiving action. Such literature is that of overgrown children; the great masters have always reached manhood, have expressed its qualities, and hence inspire them.
Essay by Abbe Felix Klein
Patrick Geddes & Colleagues
Source: 1) Ryerson University Library Archives and Special Collections; 2) Private Collection (Dennis Denisoff)
Yellow Nineties 2.0, edited by Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities
30 October 2017, ljk