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interpreting them, yet he was not a sociologist; his passion for ideas and his information about ideas was as good as that of a professional philosopher, yet he was not a philosopher.
He was a poet, a pure, courageous poet; he was above all a man studying and working in order to reach an understanding and a possession of the perfect life. His interest in the fact of living, in following all the richness, the tricks, the cruelties of life was greater than his interest in any scientific or literary approach to reality. It is why he was so open and so sensitive as to appear sometimes helpless in his contacts with human beings. But he was not helpless: his tradition was sustaining him; and an instinct in going deeper and deeper, on a way of his own, where his parents had not been; a way followed by him with the happiness of bringing something to his parents from regions that they had not visited.
Where was he going? What novels could this student of life have contributed to European literature? It is difficult to say; one has the impression of violating a silence that should remain a sacred one. I think that he was going steadily toward some form of moral and intellectual religion. His eyes were more and more focussed on the mysteries of life rather than on the many positives scientific things that he had learned so easily.
He knew all the cruelties of life, how life spoils everything, makes a superstition out of every religion, a tyranny out of every freedom. And yet he was not desperate, not sceptical, not indifferent. He was following his God, knowing that to be stopped by the sadness of life means to become prisoners of the most hopeless sadness. He was following bravely his path in the field of art, knowing the inevitable defeat and the limits of the artists. He called his ideal of asceticism with different names, Leonardo in the beginning, Pascal in the last weeks of his life. A writer in a language different from his own, his mind was always focussed upon Italy and the Italian problem. His book about Paris is less an apology of Paris than an exortation to his countrymen to be more human and balanced and free. The novel that he was writing in the last