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This article is taken from PN Review 165, Volume 32 Number 1, September - October 2005.

Robert Frost in His Own Words (edited and introduced by Anthony Rudolf) Claude Vigée

At the very beginning of April 1954, a few days after his eightieth birthday, Robert Frost gave a talk and reading at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. The young French poet Claude Vigée, who was Chairman of the Department of European Languages and Literatures at the time, wrote down some of Frost's remarks. In October 1960, Vigée moved from Brandeis to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he took up the Chair in French in the Department of Comparative Literature. In March 1961, Frost visited Israel and Greece. On 12 March 1961, Vigée made notes during a private conversation with Frost, before the poet's public reading at Beit-Shalom Hall in Rehavia, West Jerusalem, near the famous King David Hotel, where Frost was staying. Perhaps naïvely, I asked Vigée if Frost minded this unusual behaviour. No, on the contrary, the old poet was pleased. In the Jerusalem 'interview', Vigée has inevitably abbreviated Frost's remarks delivered face to face.

Half a century after the Brandeis gathering, Vigée, now 84, sent me his unedited handwritten notes. I made a transcription, organised it into sets, and slightly edited the text - to remove Frost's repetitions and to remedy one particular inconsistency imported by Vigée at the time: the transposition of a few of the old poet's remarks into reported speech. These I have restored to what Vigée would have heard Frost say. The document - which Vigée himself has approved - is a faithfully edited record of the American poet's words. ...


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