Writers’ notebooks sometimes prove more revelatory than diaries or intimate journals. At first they might appear to be rag-and-bone shops of ideas, insights, hesitations, doubts, and records of things seen, heard, read, dreamt. But eventually they coalesce into a labyrinthine map of the creative process. Swiss poet Philippe Jaccottet has faithfully kept notebooks for many decades, and the selections that make up the Seedtime volumes have retained a vividness of insight and discovery despite the passage of time. After all, as the poet himself says, his notebooks are ‘a collection of delicate seeds with which I try to replant my “spiritual forest”.’
Seedtime III, which brings this series to a close, records numerous fleeting thoughts, ephemeral experiences, and philosophical observations from a renowned poet well into his seventies, charting the single steps—sometimes forwards, sometimes back—taken in a lifelong attempt to transcend the limits of art. The inconclusive nature of the notebook entries, their tentativeness and lack of resolution, renders them as intriguing and evocative as some of Jaccottet’s best works. In them readers will find a life full of the kind of contemplation that attracts yet eludes most of us in our daily existence.
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