Louis Aragon 1925

Letter to the Editor of Les Nouvelles Littéraires: I Called You an Asshole

Source: Clarté, 5th year, no. 79, December 1925/January 1926;
Translated: for marxists.org by Mitch Abidor.

Translator’s note: Maurice Martin du Gard was the editor of the influential Parisian literary journal “Les Nouvelles Litteraires,” a review Aragon had long detested and which he mocked in his “Paysan de Paris” in 1926. Sur le Fleuve Amour was Joseph Delteil’s first novel, one much admired by the Surrealists, and Delteil was briefly part of the group. The appearance of a work by him in praise of Joan of Arc led to his expulsion and his attracting the group’s opprobrium. Gaston Gallimard was France’s most important publisher, and Drieu la Rochelle a highly-regarded writer who later embraced fascism.

In the recent article that he dedicated to the so-brilliant personality of Joseph Delteil, M. Martin du Gard alluded in truly too amiable terms to a conversation during which Louis Aragon read him a few pages of Sur le Fleuve Amour by Delteil, in which he, Martin, heard, he says, “Aragon’s voice.”

As a result of this article Louis Aragon sent the following letter to M. Martin du Gard for insertion in the review.

Paris, December 19, 1925
My Dear Martin:

I saw in yesterday’s Nouvelles Littéraires that you show no shame in my regard. Let me remind you that I don’t want you to pronounce my name. And since you've had the imprudence to remind me of a conversation during which, in the presence of M. Gaston Gallimard and Pierre Drieu La Rochelle, I called you an asshole, I take this occasion to assure you that I haven’t changed my opinion about you.

Louis Aragon

In case you don’t give this letter the publicity it has a right to (in place of the article on Joseph Delteil that is the reason for it) I will see to its publication elsewhere.

Of course, M. Maurice Martin du Gard didn’t publish it.

The Bolsheviks of l’Humanité have already repaired this omission.

Clarté believes that it, too, must make known the Nouvelle’s Littéraire’s meaningful silence. Is it that M. Martin du Gard is perfectly persuaded of the justness of M. Aragon’s expression?