In Intellectual Comfort (1947), the author and a bourgeois named Monsieur Lepage pick apart prêt-à-penser judgments on matters of literature and modern art. Highlights include Lepage’s line-by-line massacre of Baudelaire’s poem Beauty, and his argument that “revolutionary” writers carelessly brought about the imprecise vocabulary of modern readers.
What does it mean, in fact, to be bourgeois? Or original? Has our use of language been irrevocably compromised by our neglect of the classics? How often do we equate talent with having something to say? To what extent are our contemporary artists right-minded, pedantic, and complacent? Aymé easily tears off all the masks and takes no sides. Intellectual Comfort is useful, and I regret not having read it sooner.