Yves Bonnefoy, celebrated translator and critic, is widely considered the most important and influential French poet since World War II. Named to the College de France in 1981 to fill the chair left vacant by the death of Roland Barthes, Bonnefoy was the first poet honored in this way since Paul Valery. Winner of many awards, including the Prix Goncourt in 1987 and the Hudson Review's Bennett Award in 1988, he is the author of six critically acclaimed books of poetry.
Spanning four decades and drawing on all of Bonnefoy's major collections, this selection provides a comprehensive overview of and an ideal introduction to his work. The elegant translations, many of them new, are presented in this dual-language edition alongside the original French. Several significant works appear here in English for the first time, among them, in its entirety, Bonnefoy's 1991 book of verse, The Beginning and the End of the Snow, the 1988 prose poem Where the Arrow Falls, and an important long poem from 1993, "Wind and Smoke." Together with poems from such classic volumes as "In the Lure of the Threshold", these new works shed light on the growth as well as the continuity of Bonnefoy's work.
John Naughton's detailed introduction looks at the evolution of Bonnefoy's poetry from the 1953 publication of "On the Motion and Immobility of Douve", which immediately established his reputation as one of France's leading poets, through the 1993 publication of The Wandering Life and its centerpiece "Wind and Smoke."
"This is a comprehensive selection that contains examples of work spanning [Bonnefoy's] full career of forty years, from the ground-breaking "DuMouvement et de l'Immobilité de Douve" through the celebratory "Pierre Ecrite" to the magical winter landscapes of America's East Coast and an unsettling reworking of myth in the recent "La Vie Errante" . . . The translations, which are the work of a variety of hands, including Galway Kinnell, Emily Grosholz and Anthony Rudolf, nevertheless fit well together and all are sensitive to the register and subtleties of both languages, while the introductory essay by John Naughton expertly explains Bonnefoy's importance as a poet and the influences which have shaped him. This is definitely a volume worth having, for layman and French specialist alike."—Hilary Davies, Times Literary Supplement
"Anyone not familiar with Bonnefoy's work will benefit from the background information and explanations given by John Naughton in his excellent introduction . . . . The book as a whole provides an excellent introduction to Bonnefoy's poetry and to his concerns of a lifetime."—Don Rodgers, Poetry Wales
One of the most esteemed of contemporary French poets, Bonnefoy keeps his highly philosophical poetry tangible through a detailed sense of wonder at the universe, as in his famous early poem, "Place of the Salamander'': "How I love that which awaits the hour of its victory/ And holds its breath and clings to the ground.'' Selected from six books of poetry written over four decades, many of these translations are new; much of the workincluding the 1991 collection, The Beginning and the End of the Snowis published in English for the first time. Naughton's stimulating though academic introduction outlines Bonnefoy's movement from the abstractas in his early explorations of a feminine symbol of mortality he called "Douve'' to finding more rooted, joyous inspiration from the French countryside he inhabited for years. Since the 1980s, Bonnefoy's prose poems, such as "Where the Arrow Falls", maintain in a more narrative form his unique, opulent alloy of natural imagery and existential questioning. The English and French versions face; translators besides the editors include Galway Kinnell and Richard Stamelman, all of whom have delivered the English with measured clarity. (Oct.)