Accueil > Citations > Letters to Tom McGreevy, 8 and 16 September 1934 – Samuel Beckett

Letters to Tom McGreevy, 8 and 16 September 1934 – Samuel Beckett

What a relief the Mont Ste. Victoire after all the anthropomorphised landscape – van Goyen, Avercamp, the Ruysdaels, Hobbema, even Claude [Lorrain], Wilson & [John?] Crome Yellow Esq., or paranthropomorphised by Watteau so that the Débarquement seems an illustration of « poursuivre ta pente pourvu qu’elle soit en montant », or hyperanthropomorphized by Rubens – Tellus in record travail, or castrated by Corot; after all the landscape « promoted » to the emotions of the hiker, postulated as concerned with the hiker (what an impertinence, worse than Aesop & the animals), alive the way a lap or a fist (Rosa) is alive. Cézanne seems to have been the first to see landscape & state it as material of a strictly peculiar order, incommensurable with all human expressions whatsoever. Atomistic landscape with no velleities of vitalism, landscape with personality a la rigueur, but personality in its own terms, not in Pelman’s, landscapality.

Ruysdael’s Entrance to the Forest – there is no entrance anymore nor any commerce with the forest, its dimensions are its secret & it has no communications to make. Cézanne leaves landscape maison d’aliénés & a better undertanding of the term « natural » for idiot.

… How far Cézanne had moved from the snapshot puerilities of Manet & Cie when he could understand the dynamic intrusion to be himself & so landscape to be something by definition unapproachably alien, unintelligible arrangement of atoms, not so much as ruffled by the kind attentions of the Reliability Joneses.

– – – –

I do not see any possibility of relationship, friendly or unfriendly, with the unintelligible, and what I feel in Cézanne is precisely the absence of a rapport that was all right for Rosa or Ruysdael for whom the animising mode was valid, but would have been false for him, because he had the sense of his incommensurability not only with life of such a different order as landscape but even with life of his own order, even with the life – one feels looking at the self-portrait in the Tate, not the Cézanne chauve but with the big hat – operative in himself.

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