"I have only poor, shapeless stammering and I am reduced to silence": at a loss of words for Pierre Jean Jouve's poetic œuvre

Balthus (i. e. Balthasar Klossowski de Rola), French painter (1908-2001). Autograph letter.

Chassy [Montreuillon], "Octobre", n. d. [ca. 1954].

4to. 2 pp. With autograph envelope.


Beautiful and insightful letter to the writer and poet Pierre Jean Jouve, enthusiastically praising his work, particularly the 1954 publication "Mélodrame" that Balthus considers "the most important poetic event since the Fleurs du Mal". In the final paragraphs of the letter, Balthus briefly talks about himself and his "crises of work", describing them as a "continuous struggle with the impossible". In closing, he sends greetings to Jouve's wife, the psychoanalyst Blanche Reverchon-Jouve, and quotes from Shakespeare's 30th sonnet with a slight departure: "One of the precious friends hid in death's dateless night".

Extracts from the letter (translated): "Dearest, no one knows better than I who you are - and in no-one but me your work, unique today, will resound more deeply. [...] In order to tell you all that I would like to say, it would have been necessary for me to have the gift of language - that I do not have. I only have poor, shapeless stammering and I am reduced to silence at the height of my incapacity and suffer painfully from it. [...] - I think that your greatness, because from the foot of the mountain one cannot see the peak, and your solitude is precisely that of the highest altitude. I have read and reread and I still read Mélodrame. This colossal little book, the crowning achievement of your work, is undoubtedly the most important poetic event since the Fleurs du Mal. [...] - I live out of time. Earlier it was winter, then summer and now the leaves are falling again and I am still at the same point and terribly tired of a continuous struggle with the impossible perhaps and the crises of work follow one another at an exhausting rhythm, the pursued goal vanishing every time I believe to seize it. What also makes you the greatest artist of this time is the adequate form, the form that dresses the thought and moves with it like the flesh on the skeleton. Nobody has that today in any field. It is the opposite that we always see at this point".

Well preserved.

Stock Code: BN#59626 Tag: