THE RANDOM HOUSE BOOK OF 20TH CENTURY FRENCH POETRY by Paul Auster
Kirkus Star

THE RANDOM HOUSE BOOK OF 20TH CENTURY FRENCH POETRY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Given the historical interplay between French and English poetries, this up-do-date, dual-language anthology of French poetry since Apollinaire is a long-overdue treasure. Auster's selections are generous, catholic, and knowledgeable throughout. He begins with the great, full works of Apollinaire, Jacob, Reverdy, Supervielle, Jouve, Eluard, Michaux, Ponge, Prevert, Guillevec, and Char. Then, fascinatingly, he leads up to the most recent French poetry--much of which shows the influence (not always felicitous) of American poets: there is blanched, shiny work by Alain Veinstein, Alain Delahaye, Philip Denis, Emmanuel Hocquard, Roger Giroux, and Jacques Dupin. (Auster quotes Yves Bonnefroy as describing English poetry as a "mirror," French as a "sphere"--and if French verse has had a rounding effect on modern US poetry, the reverse ssems true of the newest French poets.) The largest achievement here, however, is in the diversity and appropriateness of the chosen translations. Highlights: Paul Blackburn's Apollinaire, and Beckett's rendering of "Zone"; Maria Jolas with Fargue's "Tumult"; Ron Padgett's Reverdy; Keith Bosley's Jouve; Auster's translation of Eluard's "Le Sourd et l'aveugle"; Richard Ellmann's and Armand Schwerner's Michaux; Michael Wood's version of Rene Daumal's "Let Mot et la mouche"; Anthony Rudolf's Bonnefoy; Harry Matthews' Roche; and Keith Waldrop's Royet-Journaud. These--as well as other versions, by other poet/translators--are literally revealing. And, in all, this anthology is easily the most virtuous and important such venture since last year's Penguin omnibus of Hebrew poetry.
Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1982
ISBN: 0394717481
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1982




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