Frenchified. To the Editor of The New Statesman
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[ 343 Frenchified To the Editor of The New Statesman The New Statesman, 30 (4 Feb 1928) 528-29 Sir, – I did not seeMr.Turner’sarticleinyour papertowhichMr.Desmond MacCarthy replies in a letter in your number of January 21st.1 But I have seen Mr. MacCarthy’s letter and have endeavoured to reconstruct the relevant parts of Mr. Turner’s article from that. As Mr. MacCarthy refers twice to the Criterion, I hope I may be permitted to comment on his letter. Mr.Turner,itappears,observedthat“ouryoungerpoets,writersandcritics haveallsuccumbedtoinfluencefromParis,”andtheuseoftheword“succumb” suggests that Mr. Turner considers this influence undesirable. Apparently Mr. Turner finds that our younger poets, etc., have consequently exalted the eighteenth century above all others. Mr. MacCarthy in his turn finds traces of Parisian influence in London, but not a trace of what he calls “eighteenth century reasonableness and respect for clarity”; Mr. MacCarthy then draws a distinction between “moral conviction,” toward which the Criterion appears to have striven, and “intellectual integrity,” which apparently the Criterion has overlooked. As Mr. MacCarthy does not proceed to define what he means by either moral conviction or intellectual integrity, I am not in a position to argue with him. I would only point out that both Mr. Turner (again, judging only from Mr. MacCarthy’s letter) and Mr. MacCarthy himself seem to think this question of Parisian influence much more simple than it is, and especially with regard to the Criterion. Again, Mr. MacCarthy sees in the Criterion the influence of three things which are supposed to be Parisian: Literary Nationalism, Neo-Thomism, and what he calls Rimbauism. I was not myself aware of any influence upon the Criterion which could be called Rimbauism, whatever that is.2 As for Literary Nationalism, I may observe that the Criterion has been far more international than any literary review in England, and perhaps more than any literary review published on the Continent. As for Neo-Thomism, I would remark that this is no longer limited to France. As for French influence in general, I should like to point outthattheCriterionhasdoneitsbesttointroduceintothiscountryimportant foreign writers irrespective of their nationality. – Yours, etc., T. S. Eliot 1928 344 ] Notes 1. The music critic of the NS, W. J. Turner, criticized the excessive influence of Paris upon the arts in England in his column “A Chamois in the Queen’s Hall” (14 Jan 1928, 433-34), stating that “Mr. Desmond MacCarthy admires Shaw because he is the nearest approach to Gallicism that we have ever had in the English theatre,” and that “Mr. T. S. Eliot re-discovered Dryden on finding that he had died a Catholic, and was therefore part of European culture, and Mr. Eliot’s monthly Criterion is a review published in London but written in Paris.” Desmond MacCarthy (1877-1952), literary editor of the NS, replied in the issue of 21 Jan, under thetitle“Frenchified,”defendinghiscriticaladmirationofShaw’splays,whichheneverconsidered “particularly French,” but agreeing that he thought Turner right about the Criterion: “yes, there I see the influence of modern Paris – literary nationalism, Neo-Tomism [sic], Rimbauism, but, please, note, not a trace of eighteenth century reasonableness and respect for clarity; of striving towardsmoralconviction,butnotafterintellectualintegrity,whichinmyjudgmentisinseparable from it” (460). 2. A reference to the French poet Arthur Rimbaud, whose poems influenced symbolist, dadaist, and surrealist poets. In “The Borderline of Prose” (1917), TSE found Rimbaud’s prose poems “amazingly convincing” and praised them for “their perfect cogency in the choice and juxtaposition of images, their evident sincerity (as if rising immediately and unreflectingly from the core of the man’s feeling),” qualities that “give them a position unique in French literature” (1.538). ...