Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Great Poems of the World)

Like many French poets, René Char has written a great number of prose poems and is considered one of the finest practitioners in this genre since Charles Baudelaire and Arthur Rimbaud, by whom he was heavily influenced. These works are scattered throughout Char’s poetry collections, suggesting that he does not distinguish the prose poem as a separate form. Char has published several volumes of essays, including Recherche de la base et du sommet (1955; inquiry into the base and the summit) and Sur la poésie (1958; on poetry). He has also contributed a number of prefaces, introductions, and catalogs for art shows, such as the 1973 Picasso exhibit in Avignon. Char’s lifelong interest in painting is reflected in essays on Georges Braque, Joan Miró, and other contemporary artists; he has also been active in other arts, writing the scenario for the ballet L’Abominable Homme des neiges (1956; the abominable snowman), for example, and the play Le Soleil des eaux (1949). Char’s work has been set to music by composer Pierre Boulez.