In The Mountain Villages Of The Remote French Basque Country In The Early Years Of The Twentieth Century, Francis Jammes Was Writing Poems, Plays, And Novels Praised By His French Contemporaries, St Phane Mallarm , Andr Gide, And Paul Claudel, Among Others, Jammes Would Become Known Among The American Modernists As One Of Their Most Essential Influences And Then, Thanks To The Vagaries Of Time And Taste, He And His Works Were Forgotten Known For His Masterful Imagery And Charming Frankness, Jammes Influence Can Be Seen On The New York School And Deep Image Poets In Addition To Its Significance To Literary History, Jammes Work Remains As Surprising And Resonant As When It Was First Published With Acclaim In This Fifth Volume Of The Unsung Masters Series, Published By Pleiades Press At The University Of Central Missouri, Editors Kathryn Nuernberger And Bruce Whiteman Have Selected Than Seventy Pages Of Representative Poetry And Prose By Jammes, And They Have Brought Together Essays By Poets And Critics Who Admire His Work Essays And Appreciations By Jaswinder Bolina, Janine Canan, John Gallaher, Christopher Howell, Benjamin Johnson, And Kathryn Nuernberger Demonstrate Jammes Influence On The Development Of Twentieth Century Poetics And Reintroduce Readers To An Astonishing Literary Voice Worth Reading In Any Time This tribute volume to the turn of the 20th Century rural poet Francis Jammes 1868 1938 is self recommending to those interested in French literature of the period or in the Pays Basque where the writer lived , and is perhaps most valuable for the Introduction and six essays that place Jammes in context and argue for his importance.Much of this critical writing discusses Jammes relation to Modernism, which looks very slight from this distance although it was also debated when he was alive Simplicity is indeed a hallmark of one type of Modernism which we can associate with William Carlos Williams as an exemplar Jammes does not seem so radically simple as Williams, partly because, as critic Christopher Howell points out, he relies a lot on conventional Romantic phraseology, as Williams certainly did not The most apt comparison for Jammes in English language poetry might actually be Thomas Hardy, although Jammes forms are freer.Howell eventually absolves Jammes of conventionality on the grounds that he means his clich s I m not sure it s a convincing argument The danger with a simple poet is shading into the simplistic, and the language which Howell quotes, and which is on display elsewhere in this volume, does sometimes seem simplistic.Kathryn Neuernberger, one of the book s editors, makes a better case for the tougher, sharper, acutely observant Jammes that emerges in the late Four Books of Quatrains, written in the poet s 50s.I was very glad to read this volume, but as a vehicle for getting to know Jammes better, it fails in two signal ways, both related to the presentation of his writing The rather short selection of his poetry, offered in translations by different hands, does not include the original French on facing pages In 2015, this is practically a deal breaker All translated volumes of poetry in the major European languages at least ought to contain the original texts All it takes is a smattering of the original language true of my French to be able to discern much better what the translators are up to.The second failing is that the selection gives a very limited impression of Jammes writing He was voluminous in prose as well as poetry, but apart from a three page Literary Manifesto, none of his prose is here Probably including some of it would have entailed commissioning and paying for new translations that would have been beyond the book s budget but without a fair array of Jammes output, which included fiction, memoir, and drama as well as lyric poetry, the volume falls short of representing him in the most rounded way. Jammes poetry is wonderful, he s certainly a new favorite I m not a big fan of the essays I think it s appropriate for the book and the essays are well written but I find analyzing poems to deeply ruins some of the magic for me.
Francis Jammes was a French poet He spent most of his life in his native region of B arn and the Basque Country and his poems are known for their lyricism and for singing the pleasures of a humble country life.
- 148 pages
- Francis Jammes
- Francis Jammes
- 21 January 2018 Francis Jammes