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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Presences et absences au monde chez Henri Michaux Duval, Claude J.


The French surrealist poet, Henri Michaux, has remained aloof from all groups and schools of writers, preferring to pursue independently his principal aim in writing which is to resolve, or at least approach, the problem of being, the problem of the meaning of life itself. His works reveal two distinct visions of the world. One is the real world, the world of the outside, of tangible things and places, the world of the daily routine of reality. The other is the imaginary world, the world of the inside, of the "self", the world of dreams, fantasies, inventions and hallucinations. In each of these worlds, Michaux is threatened by what he calls '"presences'* and '"absences". The former represent all the hostile forces in his worlds, all the things which get in the way and add to the anxiety of his existence. The latter represent nothingness, complete emptiness, the great void which brings fear and solitude. Confronted with these "presences" and "absences", his mental life becomes one of anguish. It is the purpose of this study to identify the "presences" and "absences", to define them, whenever possible, and to show how they form, in large measure, the poetic world of Henri Michaux.

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