Verlaine: Fool of God

Verlaine: Fool of God

Verlaine: Fool of God

Verlaine: Fool of God

Excerpt

Almost all biographies of Paul Verlaine have praised the work and condemned the man. We find this attitude incomprehensible. We do not understand how a biographer can write a book about someone he despises, and still less do we understand how, if Verlaine is solely the kind of person some of these biographers would have their readers believe, he could have written the poems they admire so much. We are convinced that this man, who had dark passages in his life and was maligned for them, possessed the elements of greatness.

As a result this study of Verlaine approaches his work as an inevitable result of the man and the man, conversely, as an inevitable begetter of the work. Though Verlaine does not cut a heroic figure in the usual sense of those words (and we have not attempted to make him appear so), let no one forget that the great man is larger than life in every direction, in his faults, his virtues and his talents.

We have been greatly helped during the preparation of this book. Our dedication indicates one of the chief sources of indebtedness, with whom we gratefully join that kindest and most stimulating of hostesses, Madame Roland de Margerie. We also owe much to our friend Frédéric de Heeckeren's magnificent readings of Verlaine, Rimbaud and Baudelaire and to his promptness in answering difficult questions; to Madame Renée Modot, who first introduced us to the nineteenth-century French poets; to Madame Joly-Segalen; to Mademoiselle J. Gallagher; to Madame Marie Domoy; to Monsieur Jean Adhémar; to Monsieur Bernard Dorival; to Mr. and Mrs. J. Baljeu; to Miss B. Carpenter; to Monsieur Jean Loize; to Councillor W. J. Whitelock, J. P., Mayor, and to Mr. Francis Pepin, Librarian . . .

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