Between Poetic Vision and Scientific Knowledge: Lorand Gaspar

Patmos

Patmos et autres poèmes
BY Lorand Gaspar
(Gallimard, 2001)


Translator’s Note

Lorand Gaspar at the café littéraire
“Le Duroc,” December 2006.
BY Pkobel

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Poet, essayist, photographer and translator from five languages, Lorand Gaspar wrote his first poems in French, ten years after finishing his medical studies. His debut poetry collection, Le Quatrième état de la matière (1966), was awarded the Prix Guillaume Apollinaire the year after its publication. Many other books of poetry followed, among which the most important are Sol absolu (1972), Égée, Judée (1980) and Patmos et autres poèmes (2001), all published by Gallimard. Some of his literary awards include Grand prix de poésie de la Ville de Paris (1987), Prix Mallarmé (1993), Grand prix national de Poésie (1995), and Prix Goncourt de la poésie (1998). As a translator, he has worked on poetry by D. H. Lawrence, Peter Riley, Rainer Maria Rilke, and George Seferis, as well as several books from the Hungarian, and a study on Spinoza. His own work has also been translated into Hungarian, Romanian, German, Arabic, Greek, Spanish, Italian, English and other languages.

The poems selected here derive from a sequenced poem of thirty pages, “Nights,” that was published in Patmos. One may see in these poems the author’s preoccupation with the body, and his conviction that the natural and the spiritual worlds are not opposed, but are in fact part of the same continuum. In an interview, Gaspar has said that his desire to write was part of the necessity of bringing to light and clarifying certain obscure — thus menacing — feelings, and that it was the same desire that led him to medicine and philosophy. It is noteworthy that his rapport with nature is intertwined with his scientific understanding of the world, an understanding that does not imbue a will to dominate nature, but to be part of it. In this respect, his sensibility represents a synthesis between poetic vision and scientific knowledge, as noted in a review on Patmos that was published in Le Monde des Livres, “Few contemporary poets have managed to (…) unify to such a degree their personal experience and their perception of the universe.”

— Daniela Hurezanu & Stephen Kessler

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