Louis Esterhuizen. Michel Houellebecq as digter

 

Michel Houellebecq (foto) is natuurlik eerstens as (ietwat kontroversiële) romanskrywer bekend; ten spyte daarvan dat hy as digter gedebuteer het in 1991 en sedertdien ook nog gereeld gedigte publiseer. So het sy derde bundel, Le Sens du combat, dan ook vroeër vanjaar in Engelse vertaling as The Art of Struggle in die VSA verskyn. Die vertaling Delphine Grass and Timothy Matthews gedoen.

Volgens John Montague se resensie wat by Times Literary Supplement (TLS) verskyn het, die volgende: “Urban poetry in French begins with Baudelaire, who saw Paris as ‘an anthill of dreams’ […] Baudelaire is Houellebecq’s dark master in the lyrics and prose poems of The Art of Struggle; he pays an obvious homage in ‘Fin de Soirée’, which, with its descriptions of a desolate night (‘Suspended without any foothold in the world, night might seem long to you’), evokes Baudelaire’s ‘Le Crépuscule du soir’.”

En dan, na ‘n ellelange gewoerwar oor al die invloede en “stemme” in Houellebecq se digkuns, stel Montague uiteindelik die volgende vraag:  “The question of the relationship between Houellebecq’s poetry and his controversial novels raises the central problem of his career: is he poet, novelist or prophet, or does he not give a damn? Surprisingly, he is a conventional poet; ‘Believe in the ancient metres’, he declares in that early, as yet untranslated Rester Vivant, (= Houellebecq se debuut) as well as urging us towards an almost Keatsian triad of Truth, Beauty and the Good.”

Ten slotte: “While the media often portray Michel Houellebecq as something of a sexist weirdo, in interviews he seems curiously vulnerable, in fact fragile, a timid, unprepossessing man who is clearly uncomfortable discussing his own achievement. Or is that what used to be called a persona?”

Mmmm … en ‘n mens kan maar net wonder wat onse Crito oor dié resensie te sê sou gehad het, want indien ‘n mens in gedagte hou dat Montague natuurlik sélf ‘n gerekende digter en vertaler van onder andere Francis Ponge, Eugène Guillevic en Claude Esteban is (en ook tans besig is met die saamstel van ‘n antologie oor die moderne Franse digkuns), kan ‘n mens maar net wonder of hier nie dalk ‘n skeutjie naywer by die koffie ingeroer is nie … (Behalwe dat dit nie duidelik is of die klap na Houellebecq self of sy vertalers gemik is nie.)

Nietemin, hieronder volg  ‘n gedig van Houellebecq. Oordeel maar self …

***

Poem

This man on the other platform has reached the end of the race;
And I am no longer quite at the beginning.
Why do I feel this pity for him?
Why exactly?

On the platform, near me, there are lovers
Who do not look at the man
(pseudo-lovers, he is already bald).
But they’re kissing anyway;
They seem to believe there is a world they share,
Another world than that of man,

Or of that man opposite
Who’s standing up and gathering his Tesco bags –
Definitely at the end of the race;
Does he even know Jesus-Christ died for him?

He stands up, gathers his bags
Hobbles along to the end of the platform
And there, taking full advantage of that corner to the stairs,
Disappears.

 

© Michel Houellebecq (Translation: Delphine Grass & Timothy Matthews)

 

Poem

Cet homme sur l’autre quai est en bout de course;
Je ne suis plus tout à fait au début.
Pourquoi est-ce que je ressens de la pitié pour lui?
Pourquoi, exactement?

Sur le quai, près de moi, il y a des amoureux
Qui ne regardent pas l’homme
(de pseudo-amoureux, car il est déjà chauve).
Cependant, ils s’embrassent;
Ils semblent croire à l’existence d’un monde entre eux,
D’un autre monde que celui de l’homme,

De l’homme en face
Qui se lève et rassemble ses sacs Prisunic,
Définitivement en bout de course;
Sait-il que Jésus-Christ est mort pour lui?

Il se lève, il rassemble ses sacs,
Il clopine jusqu’au bout du quai
Et là, profitant de l’angulation de l’escalier,
Il disparaît.

 

© Michel Houellebecq

 

 

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2 Kommentare op “Louis Esterhuizen. Michel Houellebecq as digter”

  1. Desmond Painter :

    Daar’s ‘n paar lieflike gedigte in The Art of Struggle.

  2. Andries Bezuidenhout :

    Ek lees op die oomblik sy nuwe boek oor “The Map and the Territory” (het ek dit reg? dalk andersom). Tot dusver skreeusnaaks!

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