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Of Flies and Monkeys/de singes et de mouches…
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Of Flies and Monkeys/de singes et de mouches (English and French Edition)

by Jacques Dupin

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0978633547, Paperback)

In the field of contemporary French poetry, Jacques Dupin (b. 1927) is a leading figure in a remarkable generation that also includes Yves Bonnefoy, Philippe Jaccottet, Jacques Raida, and Andre du Bouchet. In comparison to the aforementioned poets, however, Dupin's work has been little available in English. A single volume, Selected Poems (Wake Forest University Press, 1992), translated by Paul Auster, Stephen Romer, and David Shapiro, collects early work, but none of the poet s recent verse has appeared in English-speaking countries. This project intends to right this situation. Dupin's two important recent volumes, Coudrier (Hazel Tree) and De singes et de mouches / Les Meres (Of Flies and Monkeys / The Mothers), form a stimulating collective introduction to the poet's latest writing. The two books thus present three major poetic sequences that complement each other through recurrent common themes, and showcase the poet's various formal accomplishments. A single volume will illustrate how Dupin passes from the psychologically deep-probing prose poems of Les Meres to the skeletal ontological verse of Coudrier and the permutational lexical punning of De singes et de mouches. As the critic Jean-Pierre Richard points out in his postface to the Gallimard-Poesie paperback volume, Le Corps clairvoyant (1999), the territory of words, sensations, and images that is invented through Dupin's poems . . . belongs to no other poet today. His use of numerous key terms is especially original. Drawing on all the polysemy and resonance of words such as Eclat, feuille, soif, bord, (se) jeter, or souffle and this list could be greatly extended the poet forges poems in which meaning is at once rich, indeed supersaturated, and not entirely determinate in that it is evoked in a process of becoming, of blossoming as it were. A given line comprising feuille, for instance, will be read differently if the reader construes the word as leaf or piece of paper. E‰clat can be read as sparkle, explosion, even shrapnel. All these meanings are valid and function simultaneously. No given poem therefore has a single theme, but rather several coexistent ones, and they range from writing and war to sexual desire, death, and the perception of natural phenomena. Even in the thematically more restricted sequence Les Meres, which delves from several angles into motherhood and the relationship of a child to his mother, throughout the child's life, Dupin manages to conjure up a primitive or, more precisely, nascent state of being in which sensations, sentiments, perceptions, thoughts, and acts are depicted as emerging, before arguably language can categorize and conceptualize them. His stark poetry brings forth opposites, fosters paradoxes, suggests potential narratives that are left unrecounted, and could perhaps be called cubist in its juxtaposition of fragments and in its rejection of natural or logical transitions. Not least, his writing is humorous, especially in its wry quips, ironic transformations of well-worn expressions, or playful imagery based on in the present case flies and monkeys. It is hard to think of equivalents to Dupin's poetics in contemporary American verse. This originality also argues for the urgency of making his recent poetry available to English readers. His writing implicitly challenges the realist, empiricist, and straightforwardly autobiographical underpinnings of much contemporary English-language verse. John Taylor has translated these two volumes with the active collaboration of Jacques Dupin.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:05 -0400)

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