Some (unusual) reservations about a John Latta post of Friday. Julien Gracq is good on prose dynamics, but he's registering them in terms set by poetry. I don't see the value, myself, in having a rivalry between poetry & prose, or in eliding genuine differences between them. Valery's not the best advocate for poetry's case. Dichten = condensare has less to do with his "precision" than with Celan's ever-more-concise formulations, or perhaps with Zen. That is, poetry absolute zero : the vanishing point where art folds into truth. The "simplicity axiom" in theoretical science (ie. the simplest theories are the best) has its analogue in literature. Prose can be complex indeed; but nothing is more simultaneously massive and light than poetry (cf. Mandelstam : "beneath its modest exterior, a terrifying density").

p.s. I know, I know, you can say I myself set up the rivalry between poetry & prose, why, just last Monday (post of 8.20). Main non, this is no rivalry : simply the categorical & absolute superiority of poetry.

(p.p.s. ...then, today, he, the Latta, writes an encomium to Nabokov, so much more scintillating & particular than I ever could....)

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