The General Idea of the Revolution in the 19th Century, by P. J. Proudhon. Reviewed by Robert Anton Wilson. (With thanks to the Joseph A. Labadie Collection, Special Collections Library, University of Michigan)
Benjamin Tucker considered this Proudhon’s best book — “the most wonderful of all the wonderful books of Proudhon”— and he may well have been right in that judgment. Like many of the greatest works of the last century’ this “most wonderful book” comes to us from a prison cell: a fact which is probably far from insignificant. It is not without cause that the letters of Bartolomeo Vanzetti, the Pisan Cantos of Ezra Pound, “The Ballad of Reading Gaol,” Nietzsche’s Antichrist, the best poems of Antonin Artaud, Van Gogh’s two or three greatest canvases, Koestler’s Darkness at Noon, and several other of the most significant cultural products of this age, were produced by men who were at the time unwilling “guests of the State.” Nor is it idle to note that some time has been served (unproductively, alas!) by Ford Madox Ford, Nijinsky, Seymour Krim, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Jim Peck, and almost everybody else worth a damn as a serious thinker or artist. It is getting to the point where, as Eustace Mullins noted in his biography of Ezra Pound, lack of a police or psychiatric record is looked on, by avante garde, as a sign that a man has sold out.