Tuesday, February 28, 2012


The third issue of POINTS was published in the summer of 1949 and was noted as Nº 3 - Juin-Julliet 1949.  Copies on sale at booksellers featured a wrapper around each volume that hinted at the contents inside, a change no doubt hastened by the rather plain front format with title and number, nothing else.


The editor's introduction cautioned that POINTS 4 would be delayed as the staff was taking the month of August off on vacation with the rest of Paris as was the custom.


It is with pleasure that we the editors, present POINTS No. 3
on time, again. The next number, however, which in theory should
come out on August 15, will he delayed until October. The reason
for this delay is that our "staff" of three all desire a month's
vacation, and I guess that since we are not a "New Yorker" or an
"Atlantic Monthly" yet, we can just close the shop for a month.

It has also been decided to prolong the dead line for our Contest
entry from July 14 to August 15. This is being done in order that
we may submit to the judging committee a more varied and larger
selection of short stories.

The editors hope to start in POINTS No. 4 or 5, a book review
section, in both English and French. We are now in the process of
contacting various publishers on the subject of receiving newly printed

This issue contains several interesting and one or two provocative
stories and poems. D. Jon Grossman's "Ars Poetica: The Twentieth
Century will perhaps amuse some readers, enrage a few, bore or
fascinate others. Frankly I think it is very good, but then to each
his taste.

The opinions expressed by Lionel Abel in his "Why Young?
Why not writers?" are not necessarily those of the editors.

The editors cordially invite our readers to submit short stories,
poems and articles to POINTS, and especially invite them to try for
the short story contest. All information concerning this contest
appeared in POINTS No. 2.


POINTS 2 had introduced Lionel Abel to readers.  Abel, who was born in 1910, took exception to the stated mission of POINTS in a letter published in POINTS 3.


By all means let us read the young writers. But what does this
term "young writers" mean? Or to put the question more precisely,
what meaning or value can be ascribed to written works, aside
from their literary qualities, when we bear in mind that the ones
who wrote them are young?

A young man has written something. Shall we consider this
simply as a promise of something better to come? But in that case
the fact of youthfulness is a sort of alibi for an inadequate or unsuc-
cessful effort.  No, that better will follow is not what interests or
should interest us in the work of a new generation.

But let us make one clear distinction. In the term "young
writer" there is contained a very evident contradiction. For if to be
"young" implies to be inexperienced, uncommitted, at the beginning
of some development, to be a "writer" means on the contrary to
have had experience of writing, to have hit on something, to be at
the end of some development. To be young though a writer, that
is interesting, precisely because the qualities of youthfulness are not
able to assert themselves uncontradicted. From the point of view
of literature there is no value in a writer's being young if he is not
really a writer.                                               

But to be a writer means to have settled something, to have found
something to testify; something one will stand by and stick to; it
means to have chosen, whereas youthfulness means to have choice
still ahead of one.

But now, are there any young writers? This is of particular
interest to POINTS, for its whole aim is to open its pages to young
writers — and if these do not exist then POINTS is pointless.

In my opinion there are no young writers; what POINTS has
so far published is the work of young people who write but who are
far from being writers. They have the virtues of youth, perhaps,
but on the printed page these qualities are simply faults : their
youthfulness is not a value.

It seems to me that the young American writers — if there has
to be such a group — are not men still in their twenties but men who,
like myself, are in their late thirties. I think the young American
writers are the men of my generation, who, long in maturing, for
reasons that are hard to determine, are Just beginning to speak up.
Of course they are not really young. They are young as writers.
And that is a different thing.

Perhaps the trouble with the new generation of young men who
write, but write so badly, without perspective, without scruple,
without consciousness, perhaps their trouble lies in the fact that the
generation which preceded them — my generation — did so little.
A few ideas, very marginal, a few poems, but not a new poetry,
several novels, but nothing very solid, nothing very serious, nothing
to get excited about. Did nothing excite us then ? And is that
perhaps why those who have come along after us seem so unmoved?

If it is true that a generation tests its powers by searching out
the weaknesses of the generation that preceded it, then it follows
that the older writers have to do something, say something, for the
new writers to find themselves. Now so far my generation has not
said very much. To what shall the very young reply?

Of course if they were really determined, they could look over
our shoulder at those behind us, at the generation that we followed:
at Cummings, Faulkner, Hemingway, Stevens, Williams; ignoring
our lack of accomplishment they could start at the point where we
ourselves failed to begin. But from what I, have seen so far, not
merely in POINTS, but in the reviews published in the U.S.A., the
young seem to have chosen to follow, even less excitedly, less
interestedly and of course less interestingly, in the steps of the men
of my own generation. They do riot even seem to constitute a new
generation, but rather the lagging members of our own. Taken by
their writings, these people between twenty and twenty five might
just as well be between thirty five and forty.

I think that it is a mad thing that a magazine exists assuring
them a welcome insofar as they are young. They should have to
make their way, force themselves to be recognized, despite their
youthfulness and not because of it; they should have to overcome
their youthfulness to get a hearing and not have a review handy
which will not be too critical of something written in view of the age
of the one who wrote it. This kind of pampering of the young is
of a piece with progressive education : it is optimistic and silly, and
creates a totally wrong sense not only of the meaning of literature,
but of the meaning of youth as well.       

For youth is not the time for facility. When young, one can
conquer difficulties which later on one has not even the force to
confront. A young man wants to be taken as a man, not as young...
Let the young writers of the present time find something important
to say and they will be the first to insist that their work be regarded
on its merits, and not as the production of persons who happen to
belong to a certain age group.

LIONEL ABEL (© The Estate of Lionel Abel)

Abel went on to a distinguished career as noted in his obituary that was published in the New York Times in 2001:

Lionel Abel, 90, Playwright and Essayist
Published: April 25, 2001

Lionel Abel, an Obie award-winning playwright, essayist, novelist and scholar, died on Thursday in Manhattan. He was 90.
As a playwright Mr. Abel was perhaps best known for ''Absalom,'' one of his four works produced off Broadway. Telling of the aging King David's two-year struggle to decide which of his sons, Absalom or David, to name as his successor, the drama was chosen as the best play of the 1956 Off Broadway season.
Mr. Abel's 1984 memoir, ''The Intellectual Follies'' (W. W. Norton), which opens at the end of the 1920's, gives glimpses of legendary Greenwich Village figures like Joe Gould and Maxwell Bodenheim, recalls the radical politics of the 1930's and revisits life in Paris in the postwar years and New York in the 50's, when Mr. Abel was friendly with Abstract Expressionist painters like Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline.
In a review of the book in The New York Times, John Gross noted that some of the material was familiar. ''Yet Mr. Abel never leaves you with the feeling that you have heard it all before,'' he wrote. ''He is too independent and effervescent for that; his mind goes off on too many unexpected tangents.'' Among Mr. Abel's other books was ''Important Nonsense'' (Prometheus Books), a 1987 collection of essays about writers like Dostoyevsky, Bertrand Russell, Jean Genet, Edmund Wilson, Arthur Koestler and Jean-Paul Sartre. Mr. Abel was Sartre's authorized translator.

POINTS 3 continued to introduce new writers between its pages as well as authors who had appeared previously in POINTS:

Sindbad Vail – Notes by the Editor
Lionel Abel – Why Young? Why Not Writers?
Lionel Abel – Hell No!
Ernest Lesavan – La ≪Jeune≫ Littérature
Jules Koslow – Bossmen
Georges-Emman Clancier – Le Rite
Elliot Silverstein – Some Other Day
René de Obaldia – Le Docteur Papyrus
Christopher Middleton – Madness In Granite
L. S. Polonsky – Reply
Georges Bartehlmi – La Noce
George F. Kerr – Swinnying the Yeat Crop
Jacques Sternberg – L’escalier n’a pas d’issue
D. Jon Grossman – Ars Poetica:
                                    The Twentieth Century
Marguerite Taos – Deux Contes Berbères
Franc de George – Journey Up The Atlantic Coast
Philippe Jaccottet – Poemes
Jacqueline Babbin – The Letter
Gaston Gaoua – Les Métamorphoses de Sébastien Velpuche
Marcel Bisiaux - Notes

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