One of the foremost poets of the French Resistance, René Char has been hailed by Donald Revell as ‘the conscience of modern French poetry’. Translated by Mark Hutchinson, The Inventors is a companion volume to Char’s critically acclaimed Hypnos. It gathers more than forty poems that represent a cross-section of Char’s mature work, spanning from 1936 to 1988. All three genres of Char’s work are represented here: verse poems, prose poems and the abrupt, lapidary propositions for which he is best known. These maxima sententia combine the terseness of La Rochefoucauld with the probing and sometimes riddling character of the fragments of Heraclitus.
The Inventors includes a brief introduction to Char’s life and work, as well as a series of notes on the backstories of the works, which explain allusions that may not be immediately familiar to the English-speaking reader. These new translations stay true to the originals, while at the same time conveying much of the music and beauty of the French poems.
‘The Inventors is meant to be read alongside Hutchinson’s other translation, Hypnos: Notes from the French Resistance, and for me this is not optional—independently they are each beautiful books, but together they are stunning.’ —Bookslut
‘Char, I believe, is a poet who will tower over twentieth-century French poetry.’ —George Steiner
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