Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
John McAuliffeBill Manhire in Conversation with John McAuliffe
(PN Review 259)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Patricia CraigVal Warner: A Reminiscence
(PN Review 259)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
Next Issue Gwyneth Lewis ‘Spiderings’ Ian Thomson ‘Fires were started: Tallinn, 1944’ Adrian May ‘Traditionalism and Tradition’ Judith Herzberg ‘Poems’ translated by Margitt Helbert Horatio Morpurgo ‘What is a Book?’
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PN Review 276
PN Review Substack

This article is taken from PN Review 22, Volume 8 Number 2, November - December 1981.

Lascaux (translated by Michael March and Jaroslav Anders) Zbigniew Herbert

'Si Altamira est la capitale de l'art
pariétal Lascaux en est Versailles'
Henri Breuil

Lascaux is not on any map. It does not exist, at least not in the same sense as London or Radom. One had to inquire at the Museum of Mankind in Paris to learn its location.

I went in early spring. The Vézere Valley was rising in its fresh, unfinished green. Fragments of landscape seen through the bus window resembled canvasses by Bissière. A texture of tender green.

Montignac. A village without interest, save a plaque commemorating a worthy midwife:

Ici vécut Madame Marie Martel, sage-femme, officier d'Académie. Sa vie . . . c'etait faire du bien. Sa jolie . . . accomplir son devoir.

Expressed most delicately.

Breakfast in a small restaurant, but what a breakfast! An omelette with truffles. Truffles belong to the history of human folly, hence to the history of art. So a word about truffles.

They are an underground mushroom preying on the roots of other plants. To uncover them you need dogs or pigs, conspicuous, as everyone knows, for their perfect sense of smell. A certain fly also signals the presence of this gastronomic treasure.

Truffles fetched a high price on the market so the local peasants were overcome by a real truffle fever. The soil was burrowed, the woods ravaged, the trees now stand plaintively dead. Large ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image