Louis Calaferte

The Violet Blood of the Amethyst

Translated from the French and introduced by John Taylor

 

 

Paperback, 219 pages
ISBN 978-0-98874787-4-9
$20.00. Bilingual.

 

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LOUIS CALAFERTE (1928-1994) was one of the most prolific and controversial French writers of the twentieth century. A Christian anarchist, fiercely independent and aloof, he nevertheless won the Grand Prix National des Lettres. His ninety published titles include forty collections of poetry, a half-dozen volumes of plays, a half-dozen books of essays, a series of sexually explicit novels, such as Requiem des innocents (1952), Septentrion (1963) and La Mécanique des femmes (1992), a series of recorded interviews and sixteen books of carnets or notebooks. His massive work exhibits an unrestrained freedom, a disdain for social convention, a love of women, a childlike wonder, an enthusiasm for art and literature and a belief in life as it is lived.

JOHN TAYLOR is the author of the three-volume Paths to Contemporary French Literature and Into the Heart of European Poetry - all four books published by Transaction Press. He has also written seven books of stories, short prose and poetry, notably The Apocalypse Tapestries (Xenos Books), Now the Summer Came to Pass (Xenos Books), and If Night Is Falling (Bitter Oleander Press). He writes the "Poetry Today" column in the Antioch Review and contributes regularly to the Times Literary Supplement. For Chelsea Editions, he has recently translated And, Nonetheless, a large collection of poetry and prose by Philippe Jaccottet, and The Straw Sandals, a similarly large book of poetry and reflections by Pierre-Albert Jourdan.

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Author Louis Calaferte
Photo by Jacques Sassier
Editions Gallimard

 

 

Selections
From The Violet Blood of the Amethyst

 

 

 

Le mot n'est qu'envol.
Poursuivre l'idée - qui s'exile.
La reconnaître, la saisir, la posséder, la faire usure.
Cet immobile du rien - dans l'abolition.

A word merely takes flight.
Go after the idea - that goes into exile.
Recognize it, grasp it, possess it, make use of it.
This immobility of nothingness - in the abolition.

Avec une innocente simplicité, Phaèdre constate que: dans une humble condition les hommes n'ont rien àcraindre, et que les grandes richesses sont accompagnées de périls.
De quelle façon faut-il, en toute sécurité, porter son âme?

With innocent simplicity, Phaedrus acknowledges that poverty is safe;
great riches are liable to danger.
How must one, in complete safety, bear one's soul?

Dans le jardin de ma jeunesse
dans les roses de mon jardin
dans le visage de mes roses
dans le sourire de mon visage
dans la tristesse de mon sourire
dans les sables de ma tristesse
dans la solitude de mes sables
dans la mort de ma solitude
dans l'enfantillage de ma mort

In the garden of my youth
in the roses of my garden
in the faces of my roses
in the smile of my face
in the sadness of my smile
in the sands of my sadness
in the solitude of my sands
in the death of my solitude
in the childishness of my death

Attendre l'ultime precision - mort.

Attain the ultimate precision - death.

Dans les ruelles asphyxiées de chaleur, sa jupe à deux mains relevée sur une nudité blanche.

In the suffocating hot lanes, her skirt lifted with both hands above her white nakedness.

L'appréhension du malheur l'incitait à refuser ce qui était susceptible de le lui rappeler; ainsi n'eut-il jamais une pensée pour les disparus de son entourage.

Fearing misfortune prompted him to reject whatever was likely to make him recall it; he therefore never had a thought for those who had vanished from his circle.

- Tout cela qui ne t'atteint pas n'est en substance rien puisque seule tu es mon inquiétude.
- Je me dispense de te connaître dans tes mensonges.
- Je ne m'éclaire que d'impossibilites.
- Quant à moi?
- Je ne suis pas opposé à la distraction.

- All this leaving you untouched is essentially nothing because only you are my uneasiness.
- I refrain from knowing you through your lies.
- Only impossibilities cast light on me.
- As for me?
- I am not opposed to distraction.

Polypheme dit :
- Clarté! - les dieux ont figure du Jour.

Polyphemus says:
- Clarity! - the gods look like the Day.

Avance vers tes contraires. Édifie-toi protestataire contre ce qui te porte, te soutient, t'enlève à toi-renême. Fais-toi indivisible subtilité, approfondissement de la connaissance. Entre dans la partie resérvée du monde. Tu n'es admis qu'à la parcellisation. Qu'elle te devienne bien inaliénable. Partie du monde tienne, de ton unique éclairement, à ta seule ressemblance. Instaure-toi découverte et, de la sorte, conçois tes approches, tes encerclements. Consacre-toi à ton isolement. Point tant ne s'agit de grandeur que d'etendue.

Head toward what is contrary to you. Build yourself up by protesting what carries you, supports you, removes you from yourself. Make yourself into indivisible subtlety, deepening knowledge. Enter the private part of the world. You are admitted only to the parceling out. May your part become an inalienable good for you. A part of your own world, of your unique illumination, resembling you alone. Institute yourself as discovery and, in that way, plan your approaches, your encirclements. Devote yourself to your isolation. Greatness is much less the matter than vastness.

Pelotonnée dans la chaleur du lit, enfantine retrouvée, elle remue en pensée des images qui ont ma silhouette.

Snuggled into the warm bed, childlike once again, she stirs images in her mind that have my silhouette.

 

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