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This article is taken from PN Review 121, Volume 24 Number 5, May - June 1998.

The Hinterland (Chapter 1 translated by Stephen Romer) Yves Bonnefoy

I have often experienced a feeling of anxiety at crossroads. At such moments it seems that here, or close by, a couple of steps away on the path I didn't take and which is already receding - that just over there a more elevated kind of country would open up, where I might have gone to live and which I've already lost. And yet, at the moment of choice, there was nothing to indicate or even to suggest that I should take the other route. Often, I have been able to follow it with my eyes and assure myself that it didn't lead to a new earth. But that does not relieve my anxiety since I also know that the other country wouldn't be remarkable for any novel aspects of its monuments or its soil. I have not taste for imagining unknown colours or forms, or a beauty superior to that of this world. I love the earth, and what I see delights me, and sometimes I even believe that the unbroken line of peaks, the majesty of the trees, the liveliness of water moving through the bottom of a ravine, the graceful façade of a church - because in some places and at certain hours they are so intense - must have been intended for our benefit. This harmony has a meaning, these landscapes and phenomena, while they are still fixed, or possibly enchanted, are almost like a language, as if the absolute would declare itself if we ...


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