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Selected Writings of Paul Valery Paperback – January 17, 1964


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions; First edition (January 17, 1964)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811202135
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811202138
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #341,173 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 26, 2006
This volume consists in selections of Paul Valery's writings. Valery was a thinker and poet whose own intellectual path was a unique one. He began by writing poetry but then in his early twenties decided to abandon poetry completely in order to devote himself to the study of his own mind, the study of his own creative process. And so he began that lifework of every morning sitting down and writing down his observations, his thoughts about his creative process. Early on he had the hope that this will lead him to something like a mathematically complete system of understanding of the mind. Later on, his ambitions became more modest.

After twenty years of poetic silence he at the urging of others resumed writing poetry and wrote among other things 'La Jeune Parque' which is in this volume. This work made him famous , something he regarded as a very mixed blessing. But the fame enabled him to find new ways of making a living when his work for the Defense Department of France, terminated.

This present volume contains 'Le Cimitiere Marin' 'Le Jeune Parque' excerpts from 'Monsieur Teste ' and the drama 'Mon Faust'.

In the essays one feels Valery's unique and great aphoristic powers, powers which are felt even more strongly in his Notebooks.

Valery is a concise, precise, thought- provoking writer. He is an intellectual figure of great integrity and singular determination.

He is also inspiring. Reading these words of his many years ago I too felt myself' thinking in aphorisms'.

I conclude here with a section from Joseph Epstein's outstanding review of the English translated edition (in five volumes) of Valery's 'Notebooks'.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By dijitalhaze on December 29, 2014
I've never been able to get myself to truly appreciate much of this man's writing, which strikes me as mostly pseudo-philosophical purple prose, and eye rolling-ly self-referential. I do love many of the French writers of this relative time period, such as Verlaine, Rimbaud, Mallarmé, and "crazy" Artaud, along with the rest of the Symbolist/Post-Symbolist crowd, but this fellow has the uncanny ability to rub me the wrong way with his hyper-idealistic, "non-thought" thinking (i.e., that poetry/writing, and interpretive schemata such as psychoanalysis, were a reduction of the "true" mind...this strikes me as something of a philosophical no-sh**er, and also naive in the sense that operations of an artistic or philosophical nature are both constructive and reductive at the very same time. In short, his semi-insight was his blindness).

I'll even take the flash and fire of neurotic Gérard de Nerval (a proto-Valéry, and considerably more fascinating on a couple levels) over this onanistic rambler any day. This is all to say his "interest" in his own mind doesn't qualify as interesting in my book, and just comes across as a lexically refined form of narcissism (yes, I am ironically poking fun at his near obsession with the myth in writings such as "Narcisse Parle")...perhaps reading his work is a little more interesting than reading the notebooks of the insane, but not much more than that.

All this being said, his poems are certainly beautiful, even if they are formally stiff (and perhaps come across as a more "passionate" take on Mallarmé), and the translations in this volume, accompanied en face with the original French, are excellent.
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12 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Skowronski on April 4, 2000
When Valery was writing, the Symbolist movement had already died down, but he was nonetheless accurate in defining, describing, and practicing it. The essays contained in this edition are exquisite. The prose is probably the closest thing to Pater you'll find in French--despite Symons' declaration that the brothers Goncourt were the French Paterians, I found more of that in Valery than in the Goncourts. The poetry is also interesting, although to a lesser extent.
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2 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Dr.Felipe A. Garcia on November 26, 2010
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Its been a long time since I have been waiting to get a hold to Valery's writings. Specially about myths and mythology.
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Selected Writings of Paul Valery
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