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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Review published of Sens-Plastique/Messerli review of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button on Nth Position

Barry Schwabsky has devoted a full page review in the new Bookforum (February/March 2009, p. 28) to the Green Integer publication of Malcolm de Chazal's Sens-Plastique, translated with an Introduction by Irving Weiss, with a Foreword by W. H. Auden. That review begins:

"Sens-Plastique is a book beyond classification, and the same might be said of its author. Malcolm de Chazal was born in Mauritius in 1902 to an old and prosperous colonial family resident there since the eighteenth century. A surprising number of Rosicrucians and Swedenborgians dot his lineage, and one might detect some echoes of their beliefs in his own eccentric thought. Except for a few years studying engineering in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, he spent his life on the island, working first in the sugar industry and then as a civil servant. Chazal's first writings concerned political economy, but then he gave himself over to literature, publishing several volumes of Pensées with a local printer. Somehow his work came to the attention of the gray eminence of French letters Jean Paulhan, who prompted Gallimard to reprint in 1948 Sens-Plastique, a collection of over two thousand short texts of a genre somewhere between the aphorism and the prose poem. The book had been issued in Mauritius the year before; writers like Francis Ponge, André Breton (who compared Chazal to Lautrémont, a compliment that was, for him, the highest imaginable), and George Bataille (for whom Chazal was "the first writer to achieve the equivalence of sexual pleasure and language") were flabbergasted by this visionary from the other side of the world."

Schwabsky ends his inteligent review:

"...Sens-Plastique alone is enough to make Chazal one of the great heretics of literature—a heretic above all because he refuses to accept the distinction between metaphoric and literal language. Likewise, he overrides any absolute distinction among the senses or between the human realm and that of animals, plants, and natural forces like wind and water: spiritual energies all."

You can visit the Bookforum site here:
To order the book directly from Green Integer, click here:

You can also order books by André Breton.
Earthlight can be ordered here:

A review by Green Integer Blog author Douglas Messerli of film, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, nominated today for the Academy Awards Best Picture, has been published recently

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