Rhapsodies 1831 by Petrus Borel: Carcanet Book Launch

  • DATE

    16 March 2022

  • TIME

    7:00 pm to 8:00 pm

  • AGES

    All ages welcome



Please join us to celebrate the launch of Rhapsodies 1831 by Petrus Borel, translated by John Gallas and Kurt Gänzl.

Hosting the reading will be fellow Carcanet poet and translator, Jenny Lewis, joining John to discuss the new book.

The event will feature readings and discussion where audience members will have the opportunity to ask their own questions. We will show the text during readings so that you can read along.

‘Borel was the sun,’ said Théophile Gautier, ’who could resist him?’ Indeed, who? A lycanthrope, necrophile, absurd revolutionary, Paris dandy with a scented beard, flamboyant sufferer: a man with no grave and no memorial. His once celebrated red mouth opened briefly ‘like an exotic flower’ to complain of injustice and bourgeois vulgarity; of his frustration in love and reputation; of poverty and blighted fate. Then he withered in the minor officialdom of Algeria, where he died because he would not wear a hat, leaving a haunted house and a doubtful name. ‘And now,’ says his eccentric biographer Dame Enid Starkie, ‘he is quite forgotten.’ Rhapsodies includes all the poems Borel wrote when he was twenty and twenty-one. At the time he sported a red waistcoat, wide-brimmed hat with ribbons, black cloak thrown over his shoulders, and was followed about by admirers. The poems, he said, are ‘the slag from my crucible’: ‘the poetry that boils in my heart has slung its dross’. It is a fabulous, fiery, black-clouded dross: captains and cutlasses, castles, maidens, daggers, danger; calls to arms, imagined loves, plaints and howls of injustice. ‘Never did a publication create a greater scandal,’ Borel said, ‘because it was a book written heart and soul, with no thought of anything else, and stuffed with gall and suffering’. It was not reviewed. Now it is back.

Registration for this online event will cost £2, later redeemable against the cost of the book. All attendees will receive the discount code and how to purchase the book during and after event.