Henri Michaux

Henri Michaux (1899 – 1984) is one of the most essential figures of modern European art. His contribution as an artist in the full sense of the word is not significant only in the field of literature – he also proves himself as a painter, essayist, philosopher and traveler. French literary critics label his literary work as belonging to surrealism, or alternatively to the poetry of “real imagination,” with representatives such as Perce, Jouve, Reverdy, René Char, Césaire, Francis Ponge and others.

If we look at Henri Michaux’s Belgian origin, it comes as no surprise that his name appears in the French literary society. Given that he spent a significant part of his life in France, where he also created the whole of his works, he was able to integrate himself into the French literature very well, just like numerous other Belgian authors (Crommelynck, Simenon, Ghelderode). However, that doesn’t change the fact that Henri Micheaux is considered to be a representative of both literatures.

In Slovakia, Henri Micheaux is known mostly as a poet, and that is all due to the translations by Jozef Mihalkovič published sparingly in newspapers and magazines in 1968. However, his work didn’t properly come alive until the 90s. If we look at Michaux’s work, traveling seems to be emblematic for his creation. The motif of travelling is equally important both for his personality and his inner world. The author travels so that through exploring either real or imaginary roads, he can find new poetry, new painting and new worlds. The author creates new genres (a fusion between poetry and prose) and uses distinctive styles and means of expression.

Lenka Hrubová