We are pleased to announce the publication of Claire Moran's edition of two important writings on art: ‘Noa Noa’ by Paul Gauguin and Charles Morice: With ‘Manuscrit tiré du “Livre des métiers” de Vehbi-Zumbul Zadi’ by Paul Gauguin, which is volume 50 in our Critical Texts series.
Gauguin, of course, is the great post-Impressionist, whose 1892 painting Words of the Devil provides our cover image, but Charles Morice is a more elusive figure. This is not Charles Morice the stockbroker who played outside left in the first England v. Scotland international in 1872; nor even brevet Colonel Charles Morice, killed at the battle of Waterloo thanks to a mix-up among his superiors. For Charles Morice the French writer, 1860-1919, we must turn to French Wikipedia. A literary journalist, called 'a rare talent' by Anatole France, he was a man of several parts (his Catholicism and campaign against the death penalty, for example, are almost a second life), but I think it's fair to say that he was an acolyte rather than a leader. He became close to Verlaine as well as Gauguin; he helped them in literary ways; he wrote their biographies.
The opening words of Laszlo Borbas's article 'A Forgotten Hero of Symbolism' (Modern Language Review 49.4, available online here) are: 'Charles Morice is only a name today.' That was in 1954. Borbas proceeds to give Morice a bit of a kicking, but winds up saying:
And yet, for one reason at least, Morice deserves our grateful memory. This conceited and impotent author had nevertheless one admirable trait: he was a generous friend and a disinterested promoter of the artists he admired. And his preferences, born of an intelligence of the heart, were to be fully justified. [...] Gauguin, too, found a stalwart friend and collaborator in Morice, who quickly understood the dominant passion of Gauguin, the hypnotism of the absolute which demands a 'sacrifice total et sans retour'.