Obscurity by Phillippe Jaccottet

Obscurity by Phillippe Jaccottet

Swiss fiction

Original title – l’Obscurite

Translator – Tess Lewis

Source – personal copy

Lizzy Siddal is doing a Seagull books fortnight well I decide to choose the books I own I have downloaded the 28 free ebooks well the ones I didn’t have. This is the debut novel of one of the best known French-language poets. Phillippe Jaccottet has written a lot of short verse prose pieces about nature. I read this qi=uote translated from french on his wiki the Jaccotean writing is “an aesthetic of measure and of the unspoken that in a way summed up a lot of what I thought of his novel. He has also translated a number of poets and writers from various languages.

When I returned to our native country, several years had passed since I’d last seen my master – I called him this because under him I’d learnt the essentials of what guided me. It was he, in fact, who had imposed the separation- he fered, no doubt rightly, that i might confuse the two of us, that in fiollowing him to closelty. I would lose all sense of personal existence. Becaues I was on another continent anc he had almost completely given up all involven=ment in public life his retirement to the country allowerd him, in a sense, to extingush the splendour of his reputation – I’d heard nothing more aboput him. i didn’t even know if he was still alive.

The return of his disciple to the homeland ?

The book has two parts and reflects on the return of a disciple of a Philosopher. Who has spent many years in the city spreading the word of his master’s philosophy hen he left his master was a happily married man with children. so when he loses touch with him he chooses to return to the small town where his master lived. There he finds the family home has disappeared and his master is no longer about. He tries to find out what happened then he remembers that his master was a fan of a certain poet he then tells him of his master downfall and he tracks him to a single room where he finds a changed man the second part of the book is the struggle of master and disciple when the master has now decided that his views and ideas were wrong and has since dived into the dark the firey brilliant mind that has been destroyed by his master when he lost his with and he sees a man crumble by disbelief when all he values in his philosophy has been shown up death.

Again he remined silent for a long  time, as if he really were considering the question and his possible guilt or perhaps simply because he was overcome with fatigue. As for me, I was exhausted from the sadness, the discomfot, the strain of paying attentio. I had seen the lights in the window go out one after the other, except for one or two. the facades behind these windows would soon be nothing more than expansesof shadow of black. The glass ceiling iver the basement gleamed in spots. I asked permission to light the candle I’d notice on the mantlepiece, left there no doubt for the power filures that were frequent in these old buildings.

He gets the sorrow of what happened to his master whilst he was away.

This is a poetic work with no names or location it is two lives one that looked up at one then on the return after years of promoting and belief in his master that he saw as a brilliant mind a successful man with a set of beliefs that work has been broken. As it says in one part nothing is true,  nothing except the pain of knowing it. This shows what happens when time breaks down on man and builds another over time. this is one of the reasons I like Seagull books and other the last few years have been buying within my budget as many as I can as this isn’t a book that is commercially appealing as it is philosophical with very little details about the characters in a way I was reminded of Beckett Godot it is sometimes what isn’t said or is there that is what matters in this book. Have you read Jaccottet? I have another of his books on my shelves that I plan to read this fortnight.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Lisa Hill
    Jun 02, 2020 @ 01:12:13

    I’ve never heard of Jaccottet but I agree with what you say about supporting small publishers who publish important works that are not necessarily commercially profitable. This is where the big global conglomerates fail us all: by submitting all books to the imperatives of marketing, they fail to support innovative writing, and we would all be the poorer for that if small indie publishers didn’t take up the reins.

    Reply

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