The poet who discovered the form in which to express psychic explosion

Adolf Hoffmeister, illustrations for Lautreamont’s Poesies (Bratislava, 1967)


Here is Granta’s bio for the illustrator:

Adolf Hoffmeister (1902-1973) was a poet, novelist, translator and editor. He edited one of the main Czech daily newspapers, Lidové noviny (1928-30) and the main literary paper, Literární noviny (1930-32). He was also a talented artist and caricaturist, often illustrating his own work. Hoffmeister set up an anti-fascist magazine, Simplicus, in the 1930s after the German satiric magazineSimplicissimus was banned by the Nazis. He also wrote the libretto for a children’s opera, Brundibar, with music by the Czech composer Hans Krása in 1938; the opera was performed fifty-five times by children in Terezín concentration camp where Krása was interned. Hoffmeister emigrated to France in 1939, but moved on to Morocco when France fell. There, he was arrested but escaped from an internment camp and arrived in New York via Lisbon and Havana in 1941. He returned to Czechoslovakia in 1945 and worked for UNESCO. After the Communist coup in February 1948, Hoffmeister was named French ambassador by the new neo-Stalinist regime but was recalled shortly after. He worked then as a lecturer in fine art at the Academy of Applied Arts. After the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, Hoffmeister emigrated to France once again in 1969, but decided to return in 1970. He died three years later in the Orlický mountains, judged by the regime to be a non-person.

I think my DNA was altered by reading Lautréamont in high school. A section from Poesies which looked like it would be fun to type:

The disturbances, anxieties, depravities, death, exceptions to the physical or moral order, the spirit of negation, the brutishness, the hallucinations waited upon by the will, torments, destruction, madnesses, tears, insatiabilities, slaveries, deep-thinking imaginations, novels, the unexpected things which must not be done, the chemical peculiarities of the mysterious vulture that watches for the carcass of some dead illusion, precocious and abortive experiences, obscurities with a flea-like shell, the terrible obsession with pride, the inoculation with deep stupors, funeral orations, envies, betrayals, tyrannies, impieties, irritations, bitternesses, aggressive tirades, insanity, spleen, rational terrors, strange misgivings the reader would rather not feel, grimaces, neuroses, the cruel routes through which one forces last-ditch logic, exaggerations, lack of sincerity, the nuisances, platitudes, gloom, the dismal, the childbirths worse than murders, passions, the clique of assize-court novelists, tragedies, odes, melodramas, eternally presented extremes, reason hissed off stage with impunity, the odours of wet chicken, dulled tastes, frogs, octopi, sharks, the simoom of the deserts, whatever is clairvoyant, squinting, nocturnal, narcotic, somnambulist, slimy, talking seal, equivocal, consumptive, spasmodic, aphrodisiac, anaemic, one-eyed, hermaphrodite, bastard, albino, pederast, phenomenon of aquarium and bearded lady, the drunken hours of taciturn dejection, the fantasies, pungencies, monsters, demoralising syllogisms, the excrement, whatever is thoughtless as a child, desolation, that intellectual manchineel-tree, perfumed chancres, thighs like camellias, the guilt of a writer who rolls down the slope of nothingness and scorns himself with joyous cries, remorse, hypocrisies, the vague perspectives that grind you within their imperceptible mills, the sober gobs of spittle upon sacred axioms, the insinuating tickling of vermin, idiotic prefaces like those of Cromwell, Mlle de Maupin and Dumas fils, the decrepitude, impotence, blasphemies, asphyxiations, fits, rages, — before these foul charnel-houses, which I blush to name, it is time at last to react against what offends us and so imperiously bows us down.

Title: Octavio Paz on Lautréamont: “The poet who discovered the form in which to express psychic explosion.”


from A Journey Round My Skull

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3 thoughts on “The poet who discovered the form in which to express psychic explosion

  1. Shevonne Polastre says:
  2. Jack Varnell says:
  3. Demetrios Traveller says:

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