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Mute Objects of Expression [Deckle Edge] [Paperback]

Francis Ponge , Lee Fahnestock

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Book Description

June 2 2008

In Mute Objects of Expression, Francis Ponge proclaims his goal: to accept the challenge that things—-objects—offer to language. These objects and scenes are perceived with unique Pongean art and humor in this volume centering on the unoccupied southern Loire countryside, where his family lived from 1940 to 1943. Because of wartime shortages, much of the book was drafted in a small notebook that made up his sole supply of paper. The poems recall the voices of Marianne Moore and William Carlos Williams and evoke the violent perfume of the mimosa, the cries of carnations, and the flirtations of wasps. He is moved to explore a shadowy town square glimpsed from a bus window. But “to conquer this landscape of Provence? That would be too much!” claimed Ponge. Mute Objects of Expression is one of Ponge’s most important and beloved volumes.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 165 pages
  • Publisher: Archipelago Books (June 2 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0976395037
  • ISBN-13: 978-0976395034
  • Product Dimensions: 16.7 x 15.3 x 1.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #701,258 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


No poet has looked more determinedly or more ferociously at things than Francis Ponge. —Peter Sirr

Ponge forfeits no resource of language, natural or unnatural. He positively dines upon the etymological root, seasoning it with fantastic gaiety and invention. —James Merrill

Francis Ponge’s prose accepts the truth that things themselves defy our language. The writing accepts this, but is not resigned to it: in Ponge, the presence of trees, ‘the slow production of wood,’ senility itself, bespeak a blazing conflagration that has not happened, which is to say that in Ponge, Being holds out against its every nemesis, and both Being and Non-Being offer themselves to our dream of silence. Ponge is the great poet of our being with things. —Leonard Schwartz

Ponge wrote like a scientist whose language is poetry. He was endlessly inquisitive about his subjects--including the wasp, birds, the carnation, "The Pleasure of the Pine Woods"—but what we end up learning is how the mind animates the world. —American Poet Journal

About the Author

Born in 1899, Ponge studied both law and philosophy before taking up a variety of editorial and teaching jobs. "Le parti pris des choses (Taking the Side of Things)" Gallimard, 1942, caught the attention of other writers and artists. Wide recognition came in the sixties when Gallimard published several large collections of his poetry and essays. Lee Fahnestock is a translator and critic. Long an admirer of Ponge, her translation of Ponge's "The Making of the Pre" was published by the University of Missouri Press in 1979.

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