French-English bilingual edition
Introduction by Jean-Pierre Richard
Gérard Macé's work challenges the barriers between poetry and the essay. This play between and within genres is essential to his writing – which has been called essay merveilleux – and derives from a questioning of language in its broadest sense. He is equally interested in the seductive musicality of words and in the remembered gestures which traced the hieroglyphs of Egypt and the calligraphic writing of the Far East. His fascination with dictionaries, grammars and glossaries leads him off on journeys in which the real and the imaginary are fused, but without being confused. He slips between words like a marvelling child constantly hoping that one day the world might be read like an open book.
This edition brings together three series of prose poems, Le Jardin des langues (1974), Le balcon de Babel (1977) and Bois dormant (1983). Other books by Macé have as their subject literary figures such as Rimbaud, Corbière, Nerval and Champollion, while Rome et le firmament and Leçon de chinois evoke places heavily charged with culture and history. Macé's other books include Vies antérieures (1991), which takes up the relationship between memory and writing, in the form of Lives (as in the Lives of saints or illustrious men), and La mémoire aime chasser dans le noir (1993), which develops his fascination with the image – the poetic image, dream image and photographic image.
Following the sudden death of translator David Kelley, work on his translation of Gérard Macé's book had to be completed by series editors Timothy Mathews and Michael Worton, helped by Jean Khalfa.
Jean-Pierre Richard is one of Europe's foremost literary critics. He has written not only on French poets but also on Stendhal, Flaubert and Proust. He has a wide following throughout Europe and the USA, and is admired particularly for his approachable and sensuous accounts of French writers.
Bloodaxe Contemporary French Poets: 8