4 March 2013

Albert Cossery [for MR]

from Proud Beggars

It must be said in his favour that Yeghen didn’t consider himself a genius – a rare characteristic among poets. He found that genius lacked gaiety! The immense enterprise of demoralisation that certain supposedly superior minds undertook against humanity seemed to him to stem from the most harmful criminality. His esteem went, instead, to ordinary people, neither poets not philosophers nor minister, but simply people possessed by a joy that was never extinguished. For Yeghen, the real value could be measured by the quantity of joy contained in each person. How could anyone be intelligent and sad? Even in front of the hangman, Yeghen would be irrepressibly frivolous – any other attitude would seem hypocritical and stamped with false dignity. It was the same with his poetry. It was the very language of the people among whom he lived, a language where humour flowered despite the worst miseries. His popularity in the native quarter equalled that of the monkey trainer and the puppeteer. He even believed he wasn’t as deserving as these public entertainers; he would have preferred to be one of them. In no way did he resemble the man of letters who worried about his career and his posthumous reputation; he sought neither fame not admiration.

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