Violent and original dreams

Will Self on JG Ballard in Granta 107:

Ballard, the most outlandish of fictional imaginers, had always dug out his wellspring by the hearth, and remained the perfect exemplar of Magritte’s dictum: a bourgeois in his life, a revolutionary in his dreams.

Another maxim, expressing a similar sentiment, is attributed to Flaubert. From his entry on “Wikiquote”:

Soyez réglé dans votre vie et ordinaire comme un bourgeois, afin d’être violent et original dans vos œuvres.

Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work.

[Letter to Gertrude Tennant (December 25, 1876)]

My boring 12:38 a.m. EST questions: was Magritte alluding to Flaubert? Was he improving on Flaubert, changing “oeuvres” to “dreams”, and “violent/original” to “revolutionary”?

Should Self have quoted Flaubert, and not Magritte? Or do the revolutionary dreams that emerged from JG Ballard’s bourgeois life have more to do with the painter than the novelist?

One thought on “Violent and original dreams

  1. And so it goes: Martin Amis in the intro to JGB’s Collected Stories: “As a man, Ballard was a great exemplar of the Flaubertian principle: writers should be orderly and predictable in their lives so that they can be ferocious and sinister in their work.”

    Am developing Parkian principle: Writers should be ferocious and sinister in their lives so that they can be orderly and predictable in their work.

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