Pascal Quignard. The Response to Lord Chandos. Translation by Stéphanie Boulard and Tim Lavenz. Wakefield Press.
In 1902, Hugo von Hofmannsthal published his famous “Lord Chandos Letter,” which many consider to be the essential testimony to a crisis of confidence in literature at the turn of the 20th century. In his imaginary letter from 1603 by Lord Chandos to the philosopher Lord Francis Bacon (1561-1626), Hofmannsthal argued for the renunciation of literary activity in favor of mute experience. A century later, Quignard, writing as Lord Bacon in 1605, responds to Hofmannsthal by passionately rejecting Lord Chandos’s resignation to silence and his wish to find shelter in an ineffable ‘outside’ language. He argues instead that letters and words participate in the eruption of nature, in its fragmentary and dissonant language, and that we must expose ourselves to this eruption.
2021 French Voices Award, PEN American Center and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy.
Table of Contents:
Introduction – Jean-Luc Nancy, “Literature vs Literature”
1. Emily in the shadow of the St. Gudula bell tower
2. George Handel in Hanover Square
3. Bacon to Chandos
4. There is a key that never goes dry