For humiliation, after all, was one effect of literature’s new commercial liberation. Baudelaire was one of the first writers to try to exist free from family inheritance, or aristocratic patronage, or government grants. But he discovered that this only leaves you alone with the market. And as soon as the market enters the picture, writing becomes a bleak strategy for reconciling sincerity to oneself with an appeal to other people. It leads to the writer performing pirouettes of self-definition and self-hatred. You never, in the words of Groucho Marx, want to belong to the club that will have you as a member. And its final effect can be seen in this proud, battered, manic sentence from a letter Baudelaire wrote toward the end of 1865: “no one has ever paid me, in esteem no more than in money, what I am DUE.”
And montage, I began to think, as I went back to work, a junior European and Jewish novelist, is maybe one possibility for future investigations: for the future novel, or the future film. You want to say everything? Then you need to learn how to edit and invent the murdered parts.
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