SIGN IN to access Harper’s Magazine
Need to create a login? Want to change your email address or password? Forgot your password?
1. Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address.
2. Select Email/Password Information.
3. Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes.
Subscribers can find additional help here. Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!
Rien n’est beau que le vrai : le vrai seul est aimable ;
Il doit régner partout, et même dans la fable :
De toute fiction l’adroite fausseté
Ne tend qu’à faire aux yeux briller la vérité.
Sais-tu pourquoi mes vers sont lus dans les provinces,
Sont recherchés du peuple, et reçus chez les princes ?
Ce n’est pas que leurs sons, agréables, nombreux,
Soient toujours à l’oreille également heureux ;
Qu’en plus d’un lieu le sens n’y gêne la mesure,
Et qu’un mot quelquefois n’y brave la césure :
Mais c’est qu’en eux le vrai, du mensonge vainqueur,
Partout se montre aux yeux et va saisir le cœur ;
Que le bien et le mal y sont prisés au juste ;
Quejamais un faquin n’y tint un rang auguste ;
Et que mon cœur, toujours conduisant mon esprit,
Ne dit rien aux lecteurs qu’à soi-même il n’ait dit.
Ma pensée au grand jour partout s’offre et s’expose,
Et mon vers, bien ou mal, dit toujours quelque chose.
Nothing is beautiful but the true: the true alone is agreeable;
It must reign everywhere, even in the fable:
The well-turned falsity of all fiction
Serves only to make the truth more readily seen.
Do you know why they read my verses in the countryside?
Why do the people seek them out, indeed, even princes?
It is not simply that they varied and are pleasing to the ear,
Nor because a word occasionally defies the measure:
Rather it is because in them the true vanquishes the false,
Shines through them all and lays hold the heart;
It is because the good and evil are taken in correct measure;
Because never does a scoundrel receive an august position;
And because my heart, always leading my mind,
Says nothing to the readers that it has not already said to itself.
My thought offers and presents itself clearly,
And my verse, good or bad, always has something to say.
–Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux, Épître IX (1695) in Œuvres, vol. 11, pp. 111-12 (St Surin ed. 1821)(S.H. transl.)
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm
Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
Years ago, I lived in Montana, a land of purple sunsets, clear streams, and snowflakes the size of silver dollars drifting through the cold air. There were no speed limits and you could legally drive drunk. My small apartment in Missoula had little privacy. In order to write, I rented an off-season fishing cabin on Rock Creek, a one-room place with a bed and a bureau. I lacked the budget for a desk. My idea was to remove a sliding door from a closet in my apartment and place it over a couple of hastily cobbled-together sawhorses.
Amount the inventor of the yellow “smiley face” had received for it by the time of his death in April:
An astrophysicist observed that the early universe looked like vegetable soup.
In North Korea, a missile capable of striking U.S. bases overseas blew up immediately after a test launch, and in North Carolina, a G.O.P. headquarters was firebombed.
Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!
“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”