To KAY BOYLE
March 19, 1969
I will send you the extracts of Memoirs of Montparnasse as soon as they appear in Tamarack Review. But I’m sure you won’t like them, and the whole book even less!From The Heart Accepts It All: The Selected Letters of John Glassco, edited by Brian Busby.
You see, I look on the whole real value of ‘memoirs’ as being not so much a record of ‘what happened’ as a re-creation of the spirit of a period in time. The first approach is so often simply tedious, faded literary gossip; name-dropping, disconnected anecdotes, etc. like 50% of Bob’s book; your own record, on the other hand, has the ring of genuine experience and feeling, and above all a good story-line: everyone here says so! The second approach is that of Rousseau, Casanova and George Moore. None of them felt ted to the historical truth; they were all liars and produced works of art by invention. Who cares about their lies now? Who knows, for instance, whether Casanova’s ‘Henriette’ even existed? Yet she lives. I don’t compare myself to them, naturally, but my book is in their style. And Casanova is the greatest writer of Memoirs the world has ever seen: this is the 18th century, and the portrait of a man as well.