Other literary forms
Marguerite Yourcenar (yewr-suh-NAHR), although best known as a novelist, wrote in virtually every other literary form as well. Her first published work, Le Jardin des chimères (1921), was a poem about Icarus. It was followed by a collection of poems titled Les Dieux ne sont pas morts (1922). Of these early works she did not speak highly. Feux (1936; Fires, 1981) is a collection of prose poems about love centered on such characters as Phaedra, Achilles, Antigone, Sappho, and Mary Magdalene, but shot through with images and allusions that reflect the modern world. Les Charités d’Alcippe, et autres poèmes (1956; The Alms of Alcippe, 1982) is another verse collection.
Pindare (1932) is a study of the Greek poet, another early work with which Yourcenar later became dissatisfied. Les Songes et les sorts (1938; Dreams and Destinies, 1999) concerns the mythic aspects of dreams. The collection Sous bénéfice d’inventaire (1962; The Dark Brain of Piranesi, and Other Essays, 1984) includes essays on such diverse subjects as the engravings of Piranesi, the château of Chenonceaux, Selma Lagerlöf, and Thomas Mann. Mishima: Ou, La Vision du vide (1980; Mishima: A Vision of the Void, 1986) is a study of the Japanese novelist Yukio Mishima. La Mort conduit l’attelage (1934) and Nouvelles orientales (1938; Oriental Tales, 1985) are volumes of short stories. Yourcenar also wrote many plays and translated a number of works into French: the poetry of Constantine Cavafy and Hortense Flexner; a volume of African American spirituals, Fleuve profond, sombre rivière: Les Negro Spirituals (1964); and a selection of Greek poetry, La Couronne et la lyre (1979). Le Labyrinthe du monde (1990), a three-part chronicle of her forebears, comprises Souvenirs pieux (1974; Dear Departed, 1991), Archives du nord (1977; How Many Years, 1995), and Quoi? L’Éternité (1988). Les Yeux ouverts: Entretiens avec Matthieu Galey (1980; With Open Eyes: Conversations with Matthieu Galey, 1984) is a series of interviews in which she talks about her life, her values, and her work.