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The Lascaux Notebooks

Jean-Luc Champerret

Edited by Philip Terry

Translated by Philip Terry

Cover of The Lascaux Notebooks translated by Philip Terry
10% off all versions
Categories: 21st Century, Ancient, British, Irish, Middle Europe, Translation
Imprint: Carcanet Classics
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (408 pages)
(Pub. Apr 2022)
9781800171725
£19.99 £17.99
eBook (EPUB) Needs ADE!
(Pub. Apr 2022)
9781800171732
£15.99 £14.39
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  • Description
  • Author
  • Reviews
  • This newest Carcanet Classic collects the oldest poetry yet discovered, as written down or runed in the Ice Age in Lascaux and other caves in the Dordogne, and now translated – tentatively – into English for the first time. The translation is at two removes, from French versions by the mysterious linguistic genius Jean-Luc Champerret, and then from the striking originals that retain such a sense of early human presence. Philip Terry mediates between the French and those hitherto inscrutable originals.

    Jean-Luc Champerret's unique contribution to world literature is in his interpretation of the cave signs. And Philip Terry's contribution is to have discovered and rendered this seminal, hitherto unsuspected work into English. The translated poems are experiments, as the drawings may have been to the original cave poets composing them as image and sound. While archaeologists maintain that these signs are uninterpretable, Champerret assigns them meanings by analogy, then – in an inspired act of creative reading – inserts them into the frequent 3 x 3 grids to be found at Lascaux. The results – revelation of Ice-Age poetry – are startling.
    Jean-Luc Champerret
    Jean-Luc Champerret was born in the village of Le Moustier in 1910. He is the author of the poetry volume Chants de la Dordogne ( Songs of the Dordogne ), and a translator of the Ice-Age signs of Lascaux. ... read more
    Philip Terry
    Philip Terry was born in Belfast and is a poet and translator. He is currently working on an anthology of incomplete work called From . The Penguin Book of Oulipo, which he edited, appeared in 2019. He has taught at the universities of Caen, Plymouth and Essex, where he is ... read more
    'Exhilarating and thought-provoking... It will, I am sure, become an influential and seminal book, one which will illuminate the previously dark and shadow-filled caves of formative language.'

    Rupert Loydell, Tears in the Fence

    Praise for Philip Terry 'The English language is shape-shifting, and Philip Terry has turned onto its multiple modern metamorphoses to produce a witty, subtle and unprecedented fugue with variations. Shakespearean themes of love, regret, loss, and misanthropy gleam through a sumptuous ventriloquising of varied idiolects taken from the new media and the global infotainment traffic, seemingly infinite permutations of structure and syntax show a delighted agility and command of intervention. I am admiring, diverted, baffled, and moved by this original, contemporary re-engagement with the Sonnets'
    Marina Warner 
    'Sparse by design, this poetry is a strong reminder of the power of words when allied to our imagination, experience and emotions.'
    Prize Judges, New Angle Prize for East Anglian Literature
     '[Philip Terry's Inferno] follows Dante's narrative freely but carefully, moving constantly between colloquial and standard, rhythmically lively and effectively drawing the reader into the story.'
    Peter Riley, The Fortnightly Review
     'Philip Terry treats the tablets like elements of code to be cracked open for contemporary eyes and ears. [His] version is original and powerful; he does not try to mend the fragments into a legible whole, but remembers the poem's shattered state.'
    Marina Warner
    'It is brilliant... the pattern and rhythm very forceful and the lingo just stunning.'
    Marina Warner 
    'The lineation speeds along at a nice articulated pace, the Dantesque pitch is right and propulsive, the cast of villains is energising, the balance between language and lingo, the allusive and the obscene just right... Berrigan the perfect shambling guide...'
    Seamus Heaney
      'Though Terry's 'I' is all but absent, his eye is keen throughout, seizing on significant details of his wanderings around estuaries, around the old Berlin Wall, and finally along the digressive paths followed by W. G. Sebald through Suffolk in The Rings of Saturn. En route, Terry's precise [...] selection of language -- sampled from the vocabularies of biology, geography and history, among other disciplines -- offer hints and glimpses and conjectures about the ways in which these three modern landscapes have been shaped by their past and present inhabitants and vice versa. There is no overt editorialising, but rather a pervasive air of pensiveness that invites many re readings. These are poems of high ambition and integrity, and there is nothing else in the English language quite like them.'
    Kevin Jackson
     'These surprising and intriguing poems offer new ways of seeing overlooked places; of reading landscapes too often dismissed as illegible. Tonally adventurous, formally radical, sometimes witty, sometimes melancholically beautiful, they stand at a convergence of nature writing and experimental poetics.'
    Robert Macfarlane
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