I've always been fascinated by the figure of Paul Valéry. A figure at once fiery, sanguine, and Olympic, that is, of an exaggerated lucidity, one that in time, repeated over and over again, ruminated, chosen by whim or method as the expedient of so many endeavors, turns your eyes into a vitreous amalgam. There's this fetish of intelligence, so proper of Valéry, that he exhibits with due intelligence, with coldness, with exigence bordering on cynicism, often revealing in the process a penchant for nihilism. Maybe that's what I love most about him, an unquenchable predilection for nihilism.

He's contradictory, always paradoxical, always exposing the flaws in thought that leads to paradoxical statements. He's so elegant, so careful in his mastery of language, for he's indeed a splendid stylist of the written word. The forms he's standing behind are without exception perfect.
He's always concentrated, writing full-out, sometimes over-emotional, scintillating, but at once his mind is overcareful in not committing a misstep. He's very warm in his manner of dealing with the coldness specific to his method of thinking, never systematically, always aphoristic.

What writers are there akin to Paul Valéry?

To my mind come bustling names as Roger Caillois, Cioran, Barthes, Georg Simmel, Adorno, Proust, William James, Bergson, Goethe, Anatol France, Walter Benjamin, Novalis, Mallarmé, T.S. Eliot, André Gide, Humboldt, Paulhan, Michaux, Lichtenberg, Joseph Joubert, Walter Pater, John Ruskin, Oscar Wilde, Borges, Nietzsche... Perhaps I'm forgetting some that in one way or the other remind me of Valéry, of his seduction, his charm, his highly refined, inoffensive contempt. I've had great pleasures in reading them, in being in their company. Italo Calvino's Palomar was wonderful in its insights. More of the same I'd say.

Any these writers can readily be identified with a great stylist. Perfectly crafted sentences, a divine poise, never a wanton word. Just incredible sense for the accomplished linguistic formula. And what else do the have in common? A thirst for knowledge, but not for accumulative, encyclopedic knowledge, but rather for a suave, erotic knowledge, a kind of passionate mathesis universalis. A certain, if vague, scientism transpires in their work, as a proof, maybe, of their unshakable skepticism. It's as if they are all sons of an ever pervasive materialism. A consciousness pushed to the utmost limits, to its ultimate consequences. And there's also this, some sort of frenzied curiosity, a passion for improvising, for finding marvelous hidden details in things by only touching their superficial surfaces, a kind of intellectual cosmopolitanism, so specific to the end of the 19th century, fin de siècle, with all the natural sciences blooming and forwarding breaking discoveries, and to the first decade of the 20th century, the belle époque. A high taste for positivism, for the noble sciences. Valéry adored Leonardo. I feel Bergson is not to far of here. Of course, Valéry's contemporaries and friends or acquaintances all share this curiosity and ingeniosity, this glamorous creativity. Paul Bourget is definitely great in this respect., But, alas, always such sumptuous aplomb, such polished style, delicate as only nuances are, such great internal attire. In a sense, this writer is always an amateur, not possibly knowing much about the subject at hand, a swashbuckling dilettante, a masterful poseur with a rhetoric so French in its inherent mechanism, but just in the same sense, his power to enamour by means of his pirouetting, evaporating skills is simply irresistible.

What writers and books are there in this vein?