The Digamma

Yves Bonnefoy

Translated by Hoyt Rogers


5.5 x 7.75 inches, 64pp. February 2014

ISBN : 9780857421838

Rs  325.00 (HB)
$19.00 (HB)
£13.50 (HB)

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Heralded as one of France’s greatest poets, Yves Bonnefoy has been dazzling readers since the publication of his first book in 1953. He remains influential and relevant, continuing to compose groundbreaking new work. Though Bonnefoy recently celebrated his ninetieth birthday, many are calling these past two decades his most impressive yet.


His latest book of poetry and prose, The Digamma, fits wonderfully into his impressive oeuvre, offering his signature style of simple but powerful language with fresh new grace. A key passage of the title piece of the book depicts the figures of Nicolas Poussin’s The Shepherds of Arcadia, which Bonnefoy has identified as crucial to the artist’s evolution. The sustained reference to Poussin’s iconography serves to ground the text in the lost civilizations of antiquity. Subtly, it brings out the underlying theme of the entire collection—in the ambivalent world we inhabit, being and non-being is fundamentally one.


As a leading translator of Shakespeare in France, Bonnefoy’s fascination with the master playwright is displayed in “God in Hamlet” and “For a Staging of Othello,” two poems in prose which belong to an ongoing series of meditations on the plays. The collection also includes haunting reflections on children, nature, origins of art, and vanished cultures.


Yves Bonnefoy was born in Tours, France, in 1923. Poet, critic and professor emeritus of comparative poetics at Collège de France, Paris, he has received several major international awards for his work, including the Prix mondial Cino Del Duca (1995) and the Franz Kakfa Prize (2005). In addition to poetry and literary criticism, he has published numerous works on art history and translated into French several of Shakespeare’s plays.



Hoyt Rogers is the author of a poetry collection, Witnesses, and a volume of criticism, The Poetics of Inconstancy. His poems, stories and essays have appeared in a wide variety of periodicals. He translates from the French, German, and Spanish. His translations of Jorge Luis Borges were included in the Viking-Penguin centenary edition. His translation of Bonnefoy’s The Curved Planks was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2006, and his anthology of the poet’s late work, Second Simplicity, appeared in the Margellos Series of the Yale University Press in 2012. Openwork, his anthology of poems and journal entries by André du Bouchet, selected and translated in collaboration with Paul Auster, will appear in the Margellos Series at Yale, also in 2014.

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