Dorothy Richardson Answers 10 Questions from The Little Review

Cover of last issue of The Little ReviewIn The Little Review Anthology, the editor, Margaret Anderson, wrote:

In 1929, in Paris, I decided that the time had come to end The Little Review. Our mission was accomplished; contemporary art had “arrived”; for a hundred years, perhaps, the literary world would product only: repetition.

I didn’t want the Little Review to die a conventional death, so I discarded all the material that had been amassed for a Last Number and decided, instead, to ask the artists of the world what they were thinking and feeling about their lives and work. We drew up a questionnaire — ten simple but essential questions — and sent it out to all our contributors.

Those who responded included Richard Aldington, Ernest Hemingway, Marianne Moore, Jean Cocteau, Janet Flanner, and Joseph Stella. Others took the attitude of Djuna Barnes, who wrote, “I am sorry but the list of questions does not interest me to answer. Nor have I that respect for the public.”

Dorothy Richardson, however, provided a set of answers that, as might be expected, reflected her doggedly insistent individuality:

1. What should you most like to do, to know, to be? (In case you are not satisfied).

To build a cottage on a cliff.
How to be perfectly in two places at once.
Member of a world-association for broadcasting the goings-on of metaphors.

2. What wouldn’t you change places with any other human being?

Because I can’t separate future from present.

3. What do you look forward to?

Can’t separate future from present.

4. What do you fear most from the future?

Can’t separate future from present.

5. What has been the happiest moment of your life? The unhappiest? (If you care to tell).

A recurring moment. Another recurring moment.

6. What do you consider your weakest characteristic? Your strongest? What do you like most about yourself? Dislike most?

Lack of concentration. Ability to concentrate. A certain changelessness. Superficiality.

7. What things do you really like? Dislike? (Nature, people, ideas, objects, etc. Answer in a phrase or a page, as you will).

Dancing, an English valley in mid-May an hour before sunset, sun behind seer. Seagulls high in sunlight. Shafts of light. Most people under the age of three. Beautiful women. Ugly ones. Such hippo-hided men as guess they are half-truths. Most Irishmen. Synthesis.

Line engravings. Gothic. Daumier. Sisley. Blake. Brzeska. Alan Odle. Rossetti. Dumas pere. Balzac. Jane Austen. Hugo. Andre Gide. Wilde. The books Osbert Sitwell will write, and After [Before] the Bombardment. The plays Noel Coward will write between forty-five and sixty.

Poetry of Buddha, Jesus, Paul, Francis, Quaker Fathers, Hebrews. Keats. Alfred Lawn Tennyson. T. W. H. Crosland. Jean [Gene] Stratton Porter. Wassermann. Proust. Smuts of South Africa. H. D., Marianne Moore, Elizabeth Madox Roberts.

The cinema. Cafes. Any street. Any garden. Mornings. Sundays. Brown bread and Cornish butter. Soap. The cinema. Onions. Split greengages. Cigars. Berkshire bacon. The cinema. Munich Lager. Conversation. Dry champagne. Planter’s punch. Gilbert and Sullivan. Bach. Antheil. Bach. Wagner. Beethoven. Beethoven. Beethoven. Bach. Bach. The cinema. Quaker meetings.

Villas. Flats. Bungalows. Lapdogs. Diamonds. The sight of a moist-ended cigarette, of anyone lighting a cigarette in instead of above a flame, of anyone tapping off ash before it is ready to fall. Archness. White china and glass-ware. Satin. Plus-fours. Marcel waves. Trousers. Sinuosity. Aquilinity. Dogmatic eccentricity. North London. Burne Jones. Sound and Colour in cinema. The idea that everything has an evolutionary history.

8. What is your attitude toward art today?

Regret on behalf of literature in so far as it allows the conjectures of science to stand for thought and of “art” in so far as it is slick, clever, facile and self-conscious.

9. What is your world view? (Are you a reasonable being in a reasonable scheme?)

That humanity is the irreducible minimum of life, and affirms it by denying the existence anywhere in “life” of anything corresponding to what it finds in itself.

10. Why do you go on living?

Because I only just begin to see how to begin to be fit to live.

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