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Violet Blood of the Amethyst

Louis Calaferte | Translated by John Taylor | June 2013

Le Sang violet de l'améthyste, published posthumously in 1998, exemplifies the rich and extremely diverse work of Louis Calaferte, one of the most original and controversial writers of 20th-century France. Here, in seemingly random order, are poems, memories, philosophical speculations, quotations, addresses to the reader, erotic descriptions, alchemical concepts, childhood scenes and, most surprisingly, short monologues of Polyphemus, the cyclops of Homeric legend. The settings shift between London and Venice, the time from the Middle Ages to the present. In the introduction to his translation, John Taylor compares this stream to the unstoppable thoughts of insomnia, or to the flow of consciousness that runs in our heads every day. Bilingual French and English.

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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