Paul Claudel

Though Claudel is not really my cup of tea – I find his work rather heavy, excessively ornate, and vaguely orientalist – I have to admit some of his passages on the Noh are astoundingly beautiful, and particularly efficacious in describing the inner and outer spectacle of the Noh performance.

From L’Oiseau noir dans le soleil levant, 1929.

‘C’est la vie telle que, ramenée du pays des ombres, elle se peint à nous dans le regard de le méditation: nous nous dressons devant nous-mêmes, dans l’amer mouvement de notre désir, de notre douleur et de notre folie. Nous voyons chacun de nos actes à l’état d’immobilité, et du mouvement il ne reste plus que la signification. A la manière d’un maître qui reprend et qui explique, quelcu’un lentement devant nous reproduit ce que nous avons reproduit ce que nous avons fait afin que nous comprenions de quelle attitude éternelle chacun des nos pauvres gestes au hazard était l’imitation inconsciente et improvisée’.

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Diego Pellecchia

Noh theatre scholar and practitioner.

2 thoughts on “Paul Claudel”

  1. Dear Mr Pellechia,
    This is a wonderful quote (the sentence before is pretty good, too), which I found just yesterday in the French noh collection LA LANDE DES MORTIFICATIONS and was trying to track down when I discovered…you.
    Question: Do you know of an English translation of either of the Yokomichi versions of AT THE HAWK’S WELL?
    Best wishes, pg

    1. Dear Mr. Griffiths, thank you for your comment and I’m glad you found my post useful. I do not know of any translations of Yokomichi’s At The Hawk’s Well. It would be interesting to see a translation of the re-conversion of Yeats for scholarly reasons, though it might not necessarily lead to aesthetically satisfying results..

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