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This review is taken from PN Review 18, Volume 7 Number 4, March - April 1981.

ENTRETIENS André Frénaud, Notre Inhabileté Fatale, entretiens avec Bernard Pingaud (Gallimard) np

These 'entretiens' were originally broadcast by French Radio but have been thoroughly reworked and now incorporate the spiritual, artistic and temporal values underlying the life and work of André Frénaud. This is not to undervalue the role of the trusted friend, the novelist Pingaud, whose tact knows when to be audacious. But it is evident that Frénaud has enjoyed and exploited his opportunity to the full, perhaps because-unlike Bonnefoy, Jaccottet, Deguy-his oeuvre consists entirely of poems without a concurrent series of prose writings bearing implicitly or explicitly on the poems.

The book consists of five principal sections in which Frénaud investigates, with characteristic subtlety and passion, aspects of the life's work and the work's life: 1) Où est mon pays. 2) L'ombre du père. 3) L'amour, la révolution, l'espérance. 4) L'irruption des mots. 5) L'idéale maison. They are replete with insight and self-knowledge, especially the last and, to my mind, most beautiful section, where the actual home the poet has reconstructed is seen to fuse with a spiritual home, an immanent presence in, on and around which every artefact, every thing, every angle of every view from the window remains itself, and yet goes beyond itself as if in a painting by a Dutch master.

Elsewhere in the book the old unbeliever explains or, rather, demonstrates how he is nourished by transcendence and by the incandescent power of myth, a French understanding of Hölderlin's insistence that man's residence on earth is poetic. But it works ...


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