Henri Michaux

Henri Michaux (1899–1984) was born in Belgium. He studied mysticism as a young man and traveled throughout South America and Asia in the ’20s and ’30s before settling in Paris. He wrote more than twenty volumes of poetry and prose, gaining his most notable success with A Barbarian in Asia (ND, 1933)—often regarded as a minor classic—and again in the late ’50s when he showed paintings created under the influence of mescaline. In 1965, he was awarded the French National Prize for Letters, but refused the award, saying that it threatened his independence.

A Barbarian in Asia

Fiction by Henri Michaux

Translated from the French by Sylvia Beach

Henri Michaux (1889-1984), the great French poet and painter, set out as a young man to see the Far East. Traveling from India to the Himalayas, and on to China and Japan, Michaux voices his vivid impressions, cutting opinions, and curious insights: he has no trouble speaking his mind. Part fanciful travelogue and part exploration of culture, A Barbarian in Asia is presented here in its original translation by Sylvia Beach, the famous American-born bookseller in Paris.…
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Ideograms in China

by Henri Michaux

Translated from the French by Gustaf Sobin

With a contribution by Richard Sieburth

Allen Ginsberg called Michaux a genius, and Jorge Luis Borges said that his work is without equal in the literature of our time. Henri Michaux (1899-1984) wrote Ideograms in China as an introduction to Leon Chang’s La calligraphie chinoise (1971), a work that now stands as an important complement to Ezra Pound and Ernest Fenollosa’s classic study, The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry. Previously available only as a limited edition, Ideograms in China is a long, gorgeously illustrated and annotated prose poem containing a very deep consideration of the world’s oldest living language.…
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The Selected Writings of Henri Michaux

by Henri Michaux

Translated from the French by Richard Ellmann

Henri Michaux is one of the great figures in modern French poetry. This selection is from L’Espace du Dedans, which collected eight books of prose poems, sketches and free verse. Brilliantly translated by Richard Ellmann, Michaux asks readers to join him in a fantastic world of the imagination. It is a world where wry humor plays against horror––where Chaplin meets Kafka––a world of pure and rare invention.
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Perhaps Michaux has never tried to express anything. All his efforts have been directed at reaching that zone, by definition indescribable and incommunicable, in which meanings dissapear…a never ending search for the other infinite.
—Octavio Paz
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