By Breton, André; Matthews, J. H.; Breton, André
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Extra info for André Breton : sketch for an early portrait
Here we are dealing no longer with painting or even with the poetry or philosophy of painting, but rather with some of the inner landscapes of a man who left long ago for the pole inside himself' (p. 195). These last words received no expansion in the course of Breton's presentation. An attentive listener could hardly be blamed for granting them nothing better than rhetorical force. In the context of Breton's lecture they caught and held attention as a nicely turned phrase, but one which, receiving no development and indeed leading nowhere in the 22 André Breton speaker's text, did not really call for sustained reflection.
This obligation turned Breton into a critic by default, so to speak. André Breton's beginnings as a poet could not have been more dutiful, his conduct being docile to the point of dullness. There is no doubt that, had he continued to work the poetic vein that he chose as a teenager, we should never have heard of him and he would never have deserved to be heard from. But his earnest imitation of his elders—indeed of men belonging to a generation already remote from his own—was so undistinguished that it does not even provide a starting point from which to measure his later progress.
In a letter to Tristan Tzara written December 26,1919, he remarked, "I like Picabia a lot, . . I know now . . " 4 Of course, one could not have expected Breton, who at that time was urging Tzara to write him letters more often, to devote much space to someone else. Even so, the impression communicated in his 1919 letter to Tzara only confirms the published evidence. Breton spoke of his admiration for Picabia as something needing no defense and calling for no explanation. Those close to him and those, too, sharing his ideas from afar would know why he thought so highly of Picabia.