Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Alfred Perles - Renegade & Writer (Part 2)

This is a continuation of my summary of the content found in Douglas Stone's short Alfred Perles biography, Alfred Perles: Renegade & Writer (1974).

Page 8 - An analyisis of his writing style in Sentiments Limitrophes: "a loosely structured, seemingly random narrative concerned primarily with a personality in the process of self-discovery."

Pages 9-11 - Henry Miller's role as a character in the biographical Sentiments Limitrophes. Amongst other adjectives and metaphors, Perles describes Miller as having the "spirit of civilized man, primitive man, a sentimental artist, and a debauched scholar." Besides reverence for his friend, Perles writes "You possess everything in order to be great: intelligence, generosity, talent, openness, skill -- all of these you have. Poor Henry, he lacks the one essential, he lacks love. I pity you. How without love, can you ever hope to be great." [all translations of Perles' words made by Douglas Stone]. Miller apparently copied this passage into his own journal.

Perles also speaks of a character named Pieta, who was in fact Anais Nin, with whom he was secretly in love. He writes a long, gushing paragraph in honour of her hands. Nin wrote about Sentiments in her diary, describing it as being "as delicate as a water colour." (Diary 1931-1934, p.93).

Page 12/13 - Stone's critique of Sentiments. "[The] style of Perles's writing, sometimes reminiscent of Miller in Cancer in its torrent of descriptive words, is certainly solid enough. It is a thorooughly readable book."

An analysis of his next novel, Le Quatour en Re Majeur (1938), also biographical. After seeing the same restaurant napkin ring for the past 15 years, Perles is triggered to mourn the loss of youth and life, and to pathetically state: "I am old and I have not lived [...] I have not lived, and winter is quite near. Thus, you understand, I have regrets." [translation by Stone]

Page 14 - Analysis of a story in Quatour in which Perles recounts a childhood moment of existential angst; this anecdote recounted by Miller in Remember To Remember, and described by him as "a masterly piece of cortical dissection."

Page 15 - Further analysis of Quatour: it is biographical, steeped in memories of his early years of poverty in Paris, and his near execution for cowardice during WWI. The style of Perles is compared to that of Goethe, for whom Perles had great admiration.

Page 16 - The importance of Perles' work in context of the French literature at the time (a mix of fragmentary Proust and Surrealism).

Page 17 - The styles of Perles and Miller are compared. "Perles himself best expressed these [differences] when he describes himself as being 'far too civilized' to possess the 'inchoate force' which was Miller's strength as a writer."

A brief analysis of Perles' next novel--and first written in English--The Renegade. It is still biographical but contains a more traditional style and plot structure.

Page 18 - Quoting Georges Wickes and Samuel Putnam, Stone compares the mutual influences Perles and Miller had on each other in life and art. "Nevertheless," Stone concludes, "the fact remains that as an important writer on his own right, Perles has largely been ignored."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone out there know where Perles lived in London ?
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