Written from 1967 to 1973 over a series of early mornings in seclusion in his country home, The Table offers a final chapter in Francis Ponge’s interrogation of the unassuming objects in his life: in this case, the table upon which he wrote. In his effort to get at the presence lying beneath his elbow, Ponge charts out a space of silent consolation that lies beyond (and challenges) scientific objectivity and poetic transport. This is one of Ponge’s most personal, overlooked, and―because it was the project he was working on when he died―his least processed works. It reveals the personal struggle Ponge engaged in throughout all of his writing, a hesitant uncertainty he usually pared away from his published texts that is at touching opposition to the manufactured, “durable mother” of the table on and of which he here writes.
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Francis Ponge (1899–1988) was both a giant of French 20th-century poetry and one of its humblest practitioners. The poet of “things,” he practiced a poetic contemplation―usually in the form of his own unique brand of hesitant, searching prose poem―of the everyday objects that share our existence. He did not so much reinvent the shell, cigarette, soap, pebble, sun, oyster or asparagus, as forge and share with them a new language.Review :
The last of Ponge’s published works, and the final volume to receive an English translation, The Table invariably carries the tone of an author returning to the very heart of his vocation through the things that make his utterances possible. It is his singular achievement to have submerged so fixedly into the world of everyday objects and coaxed from it a new cosmogony of language. (Erik Morse The Times Literary Supplement)
A meticulously rigorous translation of a book that adds much to Ponge’s rich body of work. (Kirkus)
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