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On the Motion and Immobility of Douve

On the Motion and Immobility of Douve

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Bloodaxe Contemporary French Poets: 1

French-English Bilingual Edition.

Yves Bonnefoy is a central figure in post-war French culture. Born in 1923, he has had a lifelong fascination with the problems of translation. Language, for him, is a visceral, intensely material element in our existence, and yet the abstract quality of words distorts the immediate, material quality of our contact with the world.

This concern with what separates words from an essential truth hidden in objects involves him in wide-ranging philosophical and theological investigations of the spiritual and the sacred. But for all his intellectual drive and rigour, Bonnefoy's poetry is essentially of the concrete and the tangible, and addresses itself to our most familiar and intimate experiences of objects and of each other.

In his first book of poetry, published in France in 1953, Bonnefoy reflects on the value and mechanism of language in a series of short variations on the life and death of a much loved woman, Douve. In his introduction, Timothy Mathews shows how Bonnefoy's poetics are enmeshed with his philosophical, religious and critical thought.

Yves Bonnefoy is one of France's greatest living poets. His Hier Regnant Desert, translated by Anthony Rudolf as Yesterday's Wilderness, was published by MPT Books in 2000.

Galway Kinnell is a former MacArthur Fellow and has been State Poet of Vermont. In 1982 his Selected Poems won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. He has translated works of Bonnefoy, Lorca, Rilke and Villon. Kinnell is Erich Maria Remarque Professor of Creative Writing at New York University. A new, revised edition of his Selected Poems was published by Houghton Miffin in the States in 2000 and by Bloodaxe in 2001. He lives in New York City and Vermont.

Timothy Mathews is Professor of French at University College, London. His books include Reading Apollinaire: Theories of Poetic Language (Manchester University Press, 1987) and Literature, Art and the Pursuit of Decay in 20th Century France (CUP, 2000). He has published many articles in English and French on the interactions of word and image in texts (poetry, prose, thought) and pictures (Cubism, Surrealism and after) of the 20th century. He is series editor, with Michael Worton, of the Bloodaxe Contemporary French Poets series.