Paul Valéry (1871-1945)
Is never forget my conference from Zurich, One of the first things I've done. I had to speak at the University of “The crisis of the European mind”.
The 15 November 1922, to students at the University of Zurich, he wondered about the fate of civilizations and Europe. Read the text in Parus 1924.
I apologize for giving these words of Europe and European significance a little more than geographical, and a little more than historical, but somehow functional. I would say that Europe is a kind of system as some human diversity and a particularly favorable location ; finally shaped by a particularly colorful history and lively. The product of this conjuncture of circumstances is a European. […]
I consider all European peoples who have suffered in the history of the three influences I say.
The first is Rome. Wherever the Roman Empire dominated, and wherever his power was felt ; and even wherever Empire was the object of fear, admiration and envy ; wherever the weight of the Roman sword was felt, wherever the majesty of the institutions and laws, with the camera and the dignity of the judiciary were recognized, copied, sometimes oddly aped, - There is a European thing. […]
Then came Christianity. You know how it has gradually spread in the same space of the Roman conquest. […] But, while the Roman conquest had not entered the politician and had governed the spirits in their outer habits, Christian conquest and is gradually reached the depths of consciousness. […]
What we owe to Greece Perhaps what has distinguished us as deeply from the rest of humanity. We owe him the discipline of the Spirit […]. We owe him a method of thinking that tends to bring all things to man, the complete man.
Wherever the names of Caesar, de Gaius, Trajan and Virgil, wherever the names of Moses and St. Paul, wherever the names of Aristotle, Plato and Euclid were significant and concurrent authority, Europe is the. Any race and any land which has been successively Romanized, Christianized and subjected, terms of esprit, the discipline Greeks December, is absolutely European.
Paul Valéry, “Note (or the European)”
first published in 1924 in Revue Universelle,
taken up in Variety I, Quasi political essays, “The crisis of the spirit”, Second letter.
In 1922, Alexis Leger began his career at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “He always tried to help his best Paul Valéry in doing load, by “Service Works”, literary conferences or cultural missions in the cities of Europe.” This was already the case for this first conference ?
Its “Letter to Paul Valéry” published in the Pleiades is dated 26 November, a few days after the conference in Zurich, but it concerns another text Valery, its “Notes and digressions on the introduction to the method of Leonardo da Vinci”. It is a testimony of admiration-reaching :
“I know of no purer, noblest testimony to the human spirit”. OC., p. 463.
“To satisfy the curiosity [de Valéry] in foreign policy, he assured her repeatedly hearing the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aristide Briand, with whom he could even one day be served in the privacy”. OC., p. 1239.
Saint-John Perse Foundation retains number of letters exchanged between the two men, the oldest date 1912. Very short extracts are given in the Pleiades (p. 1139).