I Will Follow In Your Tracks by Laure Pubert (Photography)

I Will Follow in Your Tracks
Laure Pubert

When I left for Norway.

It was a quest.

An absence. The possibility of a link that might not have disappeared.

Leaving in search of someone whose shadow I had glimpsed in a novel – The Birds by Tarjei Vesaas.

This journey met an urgent need: to hold on to the trace of a possible encounter inspired by a fictional character.

I had to understand the loneliness of this lost soul.

A voiceless, faceless, ageless man.

I visited his land.

I searched for him in my investigations of what I saw. Provoking encounters he might have had, trailing furtive incarnations. Signs.

Fragments of reality displaced by a meeting or a place, gradually forming the sediments of a story behind the story, the tipping point of a shared memory.

— Laure Pubert

Laure Pubert is a photographer based in Paris. She started out as a public international law researcher before devoting herself to photography full-time in 2014, driven by the desire to find her place through her creative work. Her Book Je marcherai sur tes traces (I will follow in your tracks) was published by Editions Arnaud Bizalion in June 2018. Her work was recently exhibited at Maison de la photographie Robert Doisneau in France and has been included in group exhibitions and slideshows. You can buy her book here and visit her website here.

Literature, Publishing

Two Reviews of Michel Leiris

Two Reviews of Nights as Day, Days as Night
By Michel Leiris

In her article titledNocturnal Disturbances in Diabolique Magazine, Samm Deighan gave Nights as Day, Days as Night a fascinating (rave!) review. 

A book that largely resists classification, this is a combination of surrealist autobiography (literally, in the sense that is was written by a leading Surrealist and figuratively in the sense that it is predictably and wonderful surreal), prose poem (which is how translator Richard Sieburth refers to it), and dream journal. Anyone who has a fascination with the Surrealists or 20th century Paris will find much to love and the work’s appealing strangeness certainly lingers in the memory — I can’t stop thinking about it.
Spurl’s new volume captures the poetry, absurdity, and beauty of Leiris’s book thanks to a translation from Richard Sieburth. A comparative literature professor at New York University, Sieburth specializes in writing about and translating German and French literature; perhaps I’m biased, because he has translated a number of some of my favorite authors, from Walter Benjamin and Georg Büchner to Henri Michaux, as well as Nerval, and I suspect his knowledge of the latter assisted him here. Regardless, he does Leiris proud.

And in The Pepys of Sleep (in Strange Flowers), Berlin-based writer/translator James Conway talks about dreams and literature; Michel Leiris, Raymond Roussel, and André Breton; and the real-life dream of an Italian game show. A highly recommended read.

As language rests from its customary labours, Leiris takes words apart, comparing them, rearranging them, rousing the associative logic slumbering in their syllables.

You can also read an excerpt from Nights as Day, Days as Night online at The Brooklyn Rail. 

Literature, Publishing

A Dandy in Aspic: Review of “Monsieur de Bougrelon”

Contemporary caricature of Jules Amédée Barbey d’Aurevilly by “L’Héritier” (Romain Thomas)

Contemporary caricature of Jules Amédée Barbey d’Aurevilly by “L’Héritier” (Romain Thomas)

Head on over to STRANGE FLOWERS for James J. Conway’s remarkable writing on the most “eccentric, extravagant and extraordinary” personalities of the last 200 years. One of these extravagant dandies is Jean Lorrain, author of Monsieur de Bougrelon. Conway has written about Lorrain before, and his review of Spurl’s forthcoming translation is both insightful and entertaining:

But as his siècle hastened to its fin, Lorrain wasn’t going to cede the floor before offering a minor (and perhaps not even that minor) masterpiece: Monsieur de Bougrelon.
Monsieur de Bougrelon is the original dandy in aspic. Lorrain’s book is an archive that arrests life at its moment of greatest beauty, preserved in vitrines, suspended in solutions, arrayed in filigree caskets like saintly femurs and the many foreskins of Christ.
It is a reliquary, in other words, and this is precisely the term that the astute Rachilde, loyal companion to Lorrain and fellow adherent of Barbey d’Aurevilly, applied to Monsieur de Bougrelon. The Decadent’s very vocabulary is a collection of lexical curios, recherché jewels here lovingly transferred to an English setting.
It’s a singular and intoxicating experience that ends all too soon. When the ‘old puppet’ departs the stage, you may well elect, as I did, to leaf straight back to the Café Manchester and wait for his silhouette to fill the doorway once more.

And of course we love this sentiment about our books: “These prose works come with the thick black frame of a cigarette health warning or Sicilian funeral notice.

“Caveat lector.”

Monsieur de Bougrelon by Jean Lorrain

Trade paperback, 128 pages, translated from French with an afterword by Eva Richter. Free domestic shipping.

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The Diving Bell (poem)

The Diving Bell

by Maurice Maeterlinck

Lo, the diver, forever within his bell!
And a whole sea of glass, a sea eternally warm!
A whole motionless world, a world of slow green rhythms!
So many curious creatures beyond those walls of glass,
And any contact eternally prohibited!
And yet there is so much life in those bright waters yonder!

Look! The shadows of great sailing-ships
           —they glide over the flowers, the dahlias of the submarine forest!
And I stand for a moment in the shadow of whales that are voyaging to the Pole!
And at this very moment, I doubt not, my fellow-men in the harbour
Are discharging the vessels that sail hither laden with ice:
A glacier was there, in the midst of the July meadows!
And men are swimming and floating in the green waters of the creek,
And at noon they enter shadowy cav­erns . . .
And the breezes of ocean are fanning the roofs and balconies.

Lo, the flaming tongues of the Gulf­-Stream!
Take heed lest their kisses touch the walls of lassitude!
They have ceased to lay ice on the brows of the fevered
And the patients have lit a bonfire
And are casting great handfuls of green lilies into the flames!
Lean your brows upon the cooler panes,
While waiting for the moonlight to enter the bell from above.
And close your eyes tightly, to the forest of colour,
The pendulous blues and albuminous violets.
And close your ears to the suggestions of the tepid water.

Dry the brows of your desires; they are weak with sweat.
Go firstly to those on the point of swooning.
They have the air of people celebrating a wedding in a dungeon,
Or of people entering, at mid-day, a long lamp-lit avenue underground,
In festival procession they are passing
Thro' a landscape like an orphaned child­hood,
Go now to those about to die:
They move like virgins who have wandered far
In the sun, on a day of fast,
They are pale as patients who placidly listen to the rain in the gardens of the hospital;
They have the look of survivors, breaking their fast on a battle-field;
They are like prisoners who know that all their gaolers are bathing in the river,
And who hear men mowing the grass in the garden of the prison.

Translated by Bernard Miall in Poems by Maurice Maeterlinck, published 1915.

Cloche à plongeur

Ô plongeur à jamais sous sa cloche !
Toute une mer de verre éternellement chaude !
Toute une vie immobile aux lents pendules verts !
Et tant d'êtres étranges à travers les parois !
Et tout attouchement à jamais interdit !
Lorsqu'il y a tant de vie en l'eau claire au dehors !
Attention ! l'ombre des grands voiliers passe sur les dahlias des forêts sous-marines;
Et je suis un moment à l'ombre des baleines qui s'en vont vers le pôle !
En ce moment, les autres déchargent, sans doute, des vaisseaux pleins de neige dans le port !
Il y avait encore un glacier au milieu des prairies de Juillet !
Ils nagent à reculons en l'eau verte de l'anse !
Ils entrent à midi dans des grottes obscures !
Et les brises du large éventrent les terrasses !
Attention ! voici les langues en flamme du Gulf-Stream !
Écartez leurs baisers des parois de l'ennui !
On n'a plus mis de neige sur le front des fiévreux ;
Les malades ont allumé un feu de joie,
Et jettent à pleines mains les lys verts dans les flammes !
Appuyez votre front aux parois les moins chaudes,
En attendant la lune au sommet de la cloche,
Et fermez bien vos yeux aux forêts de pendules bleus et d'albumines violettes, en restant sourd aux suggestions de l'eau tiède.
Essuyez vos désirs affaiblis de sueurs ;
Allez d'abord à ceux qui vont s'épanouir :
Ils ont l'air de célébrer une fête nuptiale dans une cave ;
Ils ont l'air d'enterrer à midi, dans une avenue éclairée de lampes au fond d'un souterrain ;
Ils traversent, en cortège de fête, un paysage semblable à une enfance d'orphelin.
Allez ensuite à ceux qui vont mourir.
Ils arrivent comme des vierges qui ont fait une longue promenade au soleil, un jour de jeûne ;
Ils sont pâles comme des malades qui écoutent pleuvoir placidement sur les jardins de l'hôpital;
Ils ont l'aspect de survivants qui déjeunent sur le champ de bataille.
Ils sont pareils à des prisonniers qui n'ignorent pas que tous les geôliers se baignent dans le fleuve,
Et qui entendent faucher l'herbe dans le jardin de la prison.

For more French Decadence, sign up to be notified when Monsieur de Bougrelon releases!

And read Richard Howard’s translation of Maurice Maeterlinck.