'Dreams Like Enigmatic Paintings' (Vanguard Editions, 2018)
'These aren’t readily accessible prose poems; Michaux never sets the reader an easy task, and at first they can seem too cerebral, too absurd. They require a certain kind of mental gymnastics, and a willingness to enter the poetic space without trying to control it. But this is also what makes them beguiling. They are radically different to the kind of art that’s being produced today and open up the imagination in surprising ways. For me, Michaux’s dream-like prose poems are an impressive example of his poetic quest to find both a total plenitude and total vacuum of meaning. We are lucky to have them in this excellent translation, which manages to retain both the ordinariness and the peculiarity of every Michaux sentence. No mean feat, and one that allows the reader fully to experience the shivery oddness of this work.'
Victoria Best, author of An Introduction to Twentieth-Century French Literature (New Readings Series) (You can read Victoria's full review here)
‘Supra-ekphratic. Extramundane. Post-haptic. Michaux’s writings are an engine for dreaming.’
Maria Fusco, author of Legend of the Necessary Dreamer (Vanguard Editions) and Reader in Interdisciplinary Writing at the University of Edinburgh
‘Packed with odd systems and strange connections. An investigation of the tyranny of meaning, of the letter of the language.’
Christian Patracchini, author of Knots (Zeno Press), is an artist, writer and curator, working across different art forms
The French writer, painter and graphic artist Henri Michaux was born in the Belgian town of Namur in 1899 and spent his childhood in Brussels. After reading works by Lautréamont he began writing in 1922. His acquaintance with Paul Klee, Max Ernst and Giorgio de Chirico, whom he met in Paris in 1925, inspired him to first painting and drawing attempts. From 1937 to 1939 Michaux edited Hermès, a magazine about mysticism. In the mid 1950s Michaux began experimenting with hallucinatory drugs, particularly with mescaline, letting his experiences inspire his writing, painting and drawing. In 1960 Michaux received the Einaudi Prize at the Biennale in Venice. Michaux's autographical book, The Major Ordeals of the Mind and the Countless Minor Ones, appeared in 1966. Michaux died in Paris on October 17, 1984. This is the first time Dreams Like Enigmatic Paintings has appeared in English.
'Henri Michaux was to have published his Dreams Like Enigmatic Paintings (En revant a partir de peintures enigmatiques) in 1964. The text is a series of dreamscapes which came to him having seen a few of Magritte’s paintings. He then had the chance to meet Magritte in person, and subsequently view more of Magritte's paintings, finally publishing his revised version in 1972. Michaux's style of writing has the intimacy of a dream journal, and yet the distance of a chronicler of dislocation. He is not comfortable to read, not only in the form of his writing, but also in the psychotic edginess of his narrative. His sentence structure and grammar are part of the creation of rupture as much as the scenes he describes. I have tried to maintain this balance in my translation, avoiding the temptation to save the reader from undue unease.' Michael Eales
Psychologist, lecturer and writer, Michael Eales studied Literature and Cinema at universities in the UK and France, culminating in an MA in Literary Translation at Essex University. He lectured in Film and Television Drama and Documentary at King Alfred’s University College, Winchester. Michael also trained as a psychologist and has also had a successful career as a business and leadership consultant.
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