poetry

their disagreements overthrew their intimacy

Cézanne and Zola

At thirteen they were known as the inseparables.
“Opposites by nature,” wrote Zola, ” we became
united forever in the midst of the brutal gang
of dreadful dunces who beat us.” Inconsolable
with Zola in Paris, Cézanne wrote, “I no longer
recognize myself. I am heavy, stupid, and slow.”
Despite many visits, their disagreements overthrew
their intimacy and they grew apart. “A dreamer,”
was how Zola described his friend, “a failure
of genius.” And in a novel he wrote how Cézanne
“had lost his footing and drowned in the dazzling
folly of art.” Cézanne replied with sixteen years
of silence, yet when Zola died he fled to his room.
“All day,” a friend said, “we heard the sound of weeping.”

– Stephen Dobyns, “Cézanne and Zola” (via essay in Hunting Men, 2.139)

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