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Literature and Ideas

The Two Roads

The Card Players by Paul Cézanne (1839–1906).

Many writers consider their art not as something to be mastered — and as something that must be mastered — but as a game of chance, on which they can test their luck. They will happily hand themselves over to Fortune, basing their own worth on nothing more than her valuation (although they are bound to inflate it a little, of course).

There are two traps, two roads to destruction: the first consists in adapting too easily to the tastes of the public, the second in holding too faithfully to one's own idiosyncratic system.

Paul Valéry (1871–1945)
Tel Quel

Beaucoup d'écrivains considerent leur art, non comme chose dont il faut se rendre maitre — sine qua non — mais comme un jeu de hasard ou l'on peut risquer sa chance. Ils se remettent tout entiers a la fortune et se donneront la valeur qu'elle voudra bien leur conférer. (Ils ajouteront meme quelque chose.)

Il y a donc deux écueil, deux manieres de s'égarer et de périr: l'adaptation trop exacte au public; la fidelité trop étroite a son propre systeme.

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