The Innocent Eye

The Innocent Eye: On Modern Literature and the Arts, by Roger Shattuck, New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1984, 362 pp., 11 black and white illustrations.

Roger Shattuck’s The Banquet Years (1958) remains the unsurpassed work on the great, fecund period of art ferment in Paris before World War I. Rich with anecdote and stories of such exotic artists as Alfred Jarry, Henri Rousseau, and Guillaume Apollinaire, The Banquet Years serves as a model cultural history, a luscious, erudite narrative. “Having Congress: The Shame of the Thirties,” the lead essay in Shattuck’s recent collection of essays, The Innocent Eye, has the same narrative ring, the same fascinating social perspective as The Banquet Years. In this essay Shattuck relates the events of the First International Congress of Writers for the Defense of Culture (in Paris, 1935), convened to explore ways to defend culture from onslaughts

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