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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 ...


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