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The Word as Archipelago
René Char; Robert Baker, trans.

2011 • 176 pp. 6 x 9"
Poetry - European

$19.95 Paperback, 978-1-890650-47-6

The Word as Archipelago is the first complete translation into English of La Parole en archipel

The Word as Archipelago is the first complete translation into English of La Parole en archipel, an important book that René Char published in 1962, and a book whose title is an apt figure for the whole body of poetry that Char wrote over a period of fifty years. The author of this book is a lover, a visionary of the natural world, an elegist, a phenomenologist of encounter, a mystic of the night, a spirit of defiant freedom who in the Second World War had been a leader in the French Resistance.

The book includes work in the different forms Char fluently moves among—the verse poem, the prose poem, and the aphoristic sequence—and displays his characteristic stylistic gifts: vivid concreteness, speculative incisiveness, archipelago-like scope. The word is an island belonging to a unity always partially hidden. Robert Baker’s resonant translation brings into English this language of intuitive crossings. A poet of pessimism and hope at once, perhaps the greatest French practitioner of the prose poem since Rimbaud, Char writes a beautifully open poetry of his avventura amorosa with life itself.

RENE CHAR is one of the great French poets of the last century. He was born in L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, in 1907, and lived almost all his life in either Paris or Provence. As a young writer, he participated in the surrealist movement, but in 1935 he broke with the movement and began to find his own path. He fought in the Second World War and in its darkest years became a leader in the Resistance. His many books of poetry, including a wartime notebook published in 1946, Leaves of Hypnos, earned him recognition as one of the major existential writers of his time, a poet of passion and independence, presence of mind and speculative scope. He died in 1988.
ROBERT BAKER studied at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, and Cornell University, where he received a PhD in Comparative Literature. The author of two books, The Extravagant: Crossings of Modern Poetry and Modern Philosophy and In Dark Again in Wonder: The Poetry of René Char and George Oppen, he is professor of English at the University of Montana.

Mon, 18 Jun 2018 12:17:52 -0500