SELECTED WRITINGS by Jules Supervielle


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The late Jules Supervielle was France's last ""saintly"" poet. Although a contemporary of the surrealist generation, with the exception of L'Homme de la Pampa, a brilliant exercise in macabre fantasy, Supervielle's work has little, of the irrational quality associated with Apollinaire or Breton. Childhood, innocence, primitive fables--these are the pivotal points of Supervielle's world. In the extraordinary ""Dieu Pense a l'Homme,"" for instance, God is presented thinking about the creation of man: ""I who am silence without end/ Shall give you speech,/ I who cannot set my feet on anything/ Wish to see you standing on your feet,/ I who am everywhere at once/ Wish to set you down upon a fixed spot..."" What Supervielle captures is a startling transparency of tone, imagery, idea; a harmonious grasp of nature and man, order and disorder. Like Rilke or Jammes, he bridges the gulf between the mysterious and the familiar; he is an idealist who apprehends the world through the senses. For Supervielle, death and life constantly touch and fall away from each other, like his symbols, the sea and the earth, or they fuse in a mystical moment, as in ""L'Enfant de la Haute Mer,"" where a thought of ""terrible intensity"" Prevents a sailor from saving his daughter. Gracefully and sympathetically translated, the sampling here of Supervielle's verse, stories, and the charming novel, Le Voyeur d'Enfants, is a fine tribute to one of the purest of French voices.

Pub Date: Oct. 16th, 1967
Publisher: New Directions