A Calm Fire
Translated by John Taylor
5 x 8.5 inches, 312pp. November 2018
ISBN : 9780857425980
Rs 699.00 (HB)
In these times of heartbreaking violence, clashing religions and a seemingly never-ending narrative of dichotomy between East and West, wonder at the religion and culture of the Middle East can be in short supply. However, the lyrical and philosophical travel writing in Swiss poet Philippe Jaccottet’s Calm Fire rekindles it, lifting us out of our ordinary locales and stories of violent conflict in the Middle East. Jaccottet’s poetic descriptions explore the rich cultural worlds of Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Israel, giving us uncommon glimpses into countries so often associated with turmoil, death and destruction. Expressing a poet’s admiration for the ecstasies of faith and a philosopher’s skepticism of these seemingly transformative feelings, Jaccottet dives deep into the religious cultures of the places he visits.
Ultimately, whether in his native Swiss Alps or among the cedars of Lebanon, the same question pervades Philippe Jaccottet’s work: How should we live? More than a simple palliative to a depressing news cycle, Calm Fire captures a true sense of place by celebrating and pondering ways of life through the immersive experience of travel.
Philippe Jaccottet’s most recent collections of poems and poetic prose texts include Cahier de verdure (Notebook of Greenery, 1990), AprÃ¨s beau- coup d’annÃ©es (After Many Years, 1994), Et, nÃ©anmoins (And, Nonetheless, 2001) and Ce Peu de bruits (These Slight Noises, 2008). His prizes include the Petrarch Prize and the Schiller Prize (2010), the highest Swiss literary distinction. In 2014, his collected writings were published in Gallimard’s pres- tigious ‘PlÃ©iade’ series, a rare honor for a living author.
John Taylor has translated major selections of the poetry and poetic prose of Pierre-Albert Jourdan, Philippe Jaccottet, JosÃ©-Flore Tappy, Jacques Dupin and Louis Calaferte. As a critic, he is the author of Into the Heart of European Poetry (2008), A Little Tour through European Poetry (2014) and the three- volume Paths to Contemporary French Literature (2003–11). He has also writ- ten seven books of stories, short prose and poetry, the latest of which is If Night is Falling (2012).