Page:My Life and Loves.djvu/11

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VII

and Reade in the world with the influence of Balzac, Flaubert and Zola.

Foreign masterpieces such as "Les Contes Drolatiques" and "L'Assommoir" were destroyed in London as obscene by a magistrate's order; even the Bible and Shakespeare were expurgated and all books dolled up to the prim decorum of the English Sunday-school. And America with unbecoming humility worsened the disgraceful, brainless example.

All my life, I have rebelled against this old maid's canon of deportment, and my revolt has grown stronger with advancing years.

In the "Foreword" to "The Man Shakespeare" I tried to show how the Puritanism that had gone out of our morals had gone into the language, enfeebling English thought and impoverishing English speech.

At long last I am going back to the old English tradition. I am determined to tell the truth about my pilgrimage through this world, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, about myself and others, and I shall try to be at least as kindly to others as to myself.

Bernard Shaw assures me that no one is good enough or bad enough to tell the naked truth about himself; but I am beyond good and evil in this respect.

French literature is there to give the cue and inspiration: it is the freest of all in discussing matters of sex and chiefly by reason of its constant preoccupation with all that pertains to passion and desire, it has become the world literature to men of all races.

"Women and Love", Edmond de Goncourt writes in his journal, "always constitute the subject of conversation wherever there is a meeting of intellectual people socially brought together by eating and drinking. Our talk at dinner was at first smutty (polisonne) and Tourgueneff listened to us with the open-