Obviously I am not mentioning a great many of the authors in Ça Ira! and, of course, I will be accused of choosing a clear ‘Modernist’ tendency (the word was used at that time), by stressing van Doesburg, Pansaers, Joostens, Neuhuys and if course I am not being fair and I know it.
I know, too, that with hindsight it is easy to say that So-and-so was mistaken or was right. But it is the critical acuity if Neuhuys that always strikes me, as when he says, for instance, of Georges Duhamel:
Yet the skilful organisation of language is sometimes produced in Duhamel at the cost of deeper qualities. His elegiac insistance on optimism often runs the risk of appearing puerile.
And that is more or less what remains of this author. Again he is perceptive when, speaking of Drieu la Rochelle, he states that he ‘opens a troubling escape route onto the conscience of today’s youth’. Before his note, he quotes the following lines to support what he says:
I shall die but my death will be terrible.
It can’t be helped if I am ugly.
It can’t be helped if I beg for mercy as I suffer.
It can’t be helped if I become a child or a woman.
It can’t be helped if I dirty myself.
I know: I’ll die lyrically
In any case, I shall be handsome when I’m dead, face downwards.
Drieu remained loyal to himself and I can’t help it quoting the words of Clément Pansaers: ‘Becomes senile, whoever traces his trajectory in a straight line’. Which is what Drieu did and it couldn’t be helped.
All this variety shows the wide scope of the review, which constitutes a vast panorama of the post 14-18 period, where certain powers can be discerned. By a brilliance in his choice of authors, Neuhuys places the accent on ‘Jouve has the greatest sense of humain suffering’.
And he quotes:
Nothing in front of me any longer, smoke!
Let me do it, Marie!
Ho, lads we’ll have ‘em!
Out of the ditch, that’s it... The bullets, can you hear them?
She had a little padlock...
Split open their bellies, good God!
And ends: ‘I split open his belly – I’m split open...
Collection OU, 7, Ingatestone, Essex, 1977.