Henri Michaux: Poète du vingtième siècle?

Nina Parish

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter or section


This chapter was an invited contribution to the first of three significant volumes, published in French, about poetry in the twentieth century. Each chapter presents one poet and analyses the particularities of their creative practice. This chapter analyses the important position occupied by Henri Michaux in both literary and artistic worlds. Creative stances in his output are identified which are arguably typical of twentieth-century creators, such as his suspicious attitude towards language, but also others that emphasise his iconoclasm and his desire to remain a marginal figure. This chapter comments on the violent, oppositional tone and subject matter of his early poetry, on affinities with his literary and artistic contemporaries, on the possibility of exorcism through language and the word and the more contemplative nature of his later publications. It also examines his infamous experimentation with hallucinogenic substances and his quest for a universal language throughout his artistic and literary career. This analysis leads to the conclusion that it is the space between which characterises Michaux’s work: between writing and drawing, science and mysticism, refusals and exorcism. This article offers a clear overview and analysis of Michaux’s contribution to twentieth-century poetics and brings my own work to a wider, French-reading, public.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRegards sur la poésie du XXe siècle
PublisherPresses universitaires de Namur/Editions namuroises/Editions poiêtês
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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