Synopses & Reviews
In his ABC of Reading
, Ezra Pound begins his short list of nineteenth-century French poets to be studied with Théophile Gautier. Widely esteemed by figures as diverse as Charles Baudelaire, the Goncourt brothers, Gustave Flaubert, Oscar Wilde, Henry James, and T. S. Eliot, Gautier was one of the nineteenth centurys most prominent French writers, famous for his virtuosity, his inventive textures, and his motto “Art for arts sake.” His work is often considered a crucial hinge between High Romanticismidealistic, sentimental, grandiloquentand the beginnings of “Parnasse,” with its emotional detachment, plasticity, and irresistible surfaces.
His large body of verse, however, is little known outside France. This generous sampling, anchored by the complete Émaux et Camées, perhaps Gautiers supreme poetic achievement, and including poems from the vigorously exotic España and several early collections, not only succeeds in bringing these poems into English but also rediscovers them, renewing them in the process of translation. Norman Shapiros translations have been widely praised for their formal integrity, sonic acuity, tonal sensitivities, and overall poetic qualities, and he employs all these gifts in this collection. Mining one of the crucial treasures of the French tradition, Shapiro makes a major contribution to world letters.
was written as a hoax, but its a genuine masterpiece. Hilarious, poignant, and utterly absurd, this book is like nothing youve read before. The brilliant translation by David Bellos captures the wordplay of this madmans memoir with an astounding skill.”Maurice Samuels, Yale University
'“The literary hoax named ‘Émile Ajar, successfully perpetrated by Romain Gary in the 1970s, was a scandalless for the element of deception, perhaps, than for that extraordinary, humiliating success. In the first English translation of Ajars most demented book, David Bellos has produced a text with all the wild, grating, fingernail against chalkboard squeal of the original. Hocus Bogus
gets on your nerves, demands that you fling it against the wall in anger and contemptand if you do it has won the match, defeated you, and will stride off the court in triumph.”Esther Allen, City University of New York
-- Maurice Samuels'
“In the era of pseudo-everythingfake memoirs, ersatz life-writing, reality TV, Internet avatars and infinite forms of plagiarythis addled ‘autobiography of an invented authorial persona is especially timely; a model of untrustworthy narration for generations to come!”Emily Apter, author of The Translation Zone: A New Comparative Literature
-- Esther Allen
is a fascinating, semi-autobiographical, novel-like work . . . superbly translated by David Bellos.”--Wall St. Journal
-- Emily Apter
“To read Hocus Bogus
in Belloss superb translation is to marvel at its dizzyingly distorted syntax (“I dont speak Danish, but not well enough”), constant wit (“reptiles are always first in the firing line when it comes to hate speech”) and sheer energy.”--Michael Dirda, The Washington Post
-- Wall St. Journal
'“Following Gautiers instructions in his famous poem, ‘Art, Norman Shapiro has sculpted, chiseled, and filed these ingenious translations in the resistant stone of the English language. One of the key poets of the French nineteenth century, revered by Baudelaire and T.S. Eliot, Gautier can now initiate a new generation of readers in English into the mysteries of the poetic art.”Rosanna Warren, Boston University
-- Tracey O\'Shaughnessy - Republican-American'
'“Gautiers distinctively graceful and elegant poetry is overdue for discovery by English-speaking readers. This virtuosic collection does both justice to his verse and a great service to those unable to appreciate it fully in the original French.”Alain Toumayan, University of Notre Dame -- Rosanna Warren'
'\"A key work in the French lyric canon. . . . We are indebted to Norman Shapiro, who is nothing less than the dean of contemporary American translators engaged with French poetry. . . . [His] scholarship is impeccable, his mastery of all facets of the original text is complete, accurate, and precise, and his application of English poetics is not only exemplary in every respect, but above all, vital and vivifying.”David Lee Rubin, University of Virginia -- Alain Toumayan'
"Yves Bonnefoy is one of the rare poets in the history of literature to have sustained the highest level of artistic excellence throughout an entire lifetime—now more than half a century of work, and still counting. These recent poems, superbly translated by Hoyt Rogers, attest to his enduring greatness."—Paul Auster
"The final exemplar of a poetic legacy that begins with Baudelaire and Mallarmé, Yves Bonnefoy is the last figure standing in a monumental tradition that has shaped modern European literature. This lovingly supple and authoritative presentation by Hoyt Rogers of the rich, endlessly rewarding later phase of the great poets work forms an invaluable contribution to our own poetry."—Jonathan Galassi
"Hoyt Rogers displays extraordinary skill as a translator of this oeuvre, given the precision and imaginative daring of his choices, his metrical ear, and his multilayered knowledge of Yves Bonnefoys work."—Marilyn Hacker
"As the foreword to his lucid and responsible translations of Yves Bonnefoy's late work reveals, Hoyt Rogers has mastered the grand cumulus of ulterior translation, criticism, commentary, and biographical circumstance which so formidably confronts, and possibly daunts, the interpreter as well as the common reader, so that indeed Second Simplicity is for seasoned practitioners of this master not only a sort of precocious capstone of the still-rising edifice of the Great Work, but for newcomers to Bonnefoy an excellent, even an ideal, entrance to this writers vast creation."—Richard Howard
“Mr. Bonnefoy [is] often lauded, and rightly so, as France's greatest living poet.”—Micah Mattix, Wall Street Journal
“[A] handsome edition of Bonnefoys recent work . . . a stunning presentation of a major poet.”—Jim Kates, Arts Fuse
“Second Simplicity . . . reveal[s] Bonnefoys remarkable inventiveness and desire to accommodate whatever form of address is called for, whether in verse or prose.”—Ron Slate, On the Seawall
By the early 1970s, Romain Gary had established himself as one of Frances most popular and prolific novelists, journalists, and memoirists. Feeling that he had been typecast as “Romain Gary,” however, he wrote his next novel under the pseudonym Émile Ajar. His second novel written as Ajar, Life Before Us
, was an instant runaway success, winning the Prix Goncourt and becoming the best-selling French novel of the twentieth century.
The Prix Goncourt made people all the keener to identify the real “Émile Ajar,” and stressed by the furor he had created, Gary fled to Geneva. There, Pseudo, a hoax confession and one of the most alarmingly effective mystifications in all literature, was written at high speed. Writing under double cover, Gary simulated schizophrenia and paranoid delusions while pretending to be Paul Pawlovitch confessing to being Émile Ajarthe author of books Gary himself had written.
In Pseudo, brilliantly translated by David Bellos as Hocus Bogus, the struggle to assert and deny authorship is part of a wider protest against suffering and universal hypocrisy. Playing with novelistic categories and authorial voice, this work is a powerful testimony to the power of languageto express, to amuse, to deceive, and ultimately to speak difficult personal truths.
An eagerly awaited anthology of recent poetry and prose by the celebrated French poet Yves Bonnefoy
Yves Bonnefoy, who will soon attain the age of ninety, has gratified his readers during the past two decades with the most prolific and innovative period of his splendid lifework. This volume presents in English and French an inviting array of his recent writings, carefully selected for their literary quality as well as their broad appeal. It features several works never published before and many that have never been translated into English. The first anthology of Bonnefoy's work to appear since 1995, this collection reflects the poet's powerful engagement with the New England landscape; its quiet woods and fields have helped to shape to the pared-down aesthetic of his recent years. The book is the first to showcase not only the poetry for which Bonnefoy is justly renowned but also his inventive compositions in prose. Appropriately, the book alternates more traditional verse with freer forms, just as the author has done in several major works of the past twenty years; that symbiotic approach is one of the hallmarks of this latter phase of his art. Superbly translated by Hoyt Rogers, the collection is organized chronologically, revealing clearly how the poet continues to extend and refine his scope and style. Rogers provides a masterly introduction in which he analyzes aspects of Bonnefoy's recent writings and the "second simplicity" that characterizes his late work.
About the Author
Yves Bonnefoy has published nine major poetry collections, numerous studies of literature and art, and an extensive dictionary of mythology. He is a celebrated translator of Shakespeare, Yeats, Keats, and Leopardi, and his own work has been translated into scores of languages. Honored internationally by the highest literary awards, including the Kafka Prize and the European Prize for Poetry, he is often acknowledged as France’s greatest contemporary poet.
Hoyt Rogers translates literary works from the French, German, and Spanish. His translation of Bonnefoy’s The Curved Planks was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and his versions of Borges were included in the Viking centenary edition. His essays, poems, and stories have appeared in a wide variety of books and periodicals. He has also published a collection of poetry and a volume of criticism.