This title is shortlisted for Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize 2011. The poetry of Jean Follain (1903-1971) is increasingly seen, by poets and critics in France and by his foreign admirers, as central to French poetry's change of course after Surrealism. The writer Henri Thomas spoke of Follain as a poet qui parle d'autre 'chose', who speaks of things outside himself; he admired his freedom from rhetoric. Follain's short, down-to-earth, subtle poems, many of which set out to preserve the lost rural world of his pre-war Norman childhood, have influenced a new generation of French poets. To anyone who still believes that modern French poetry is abstruse and over-cerebral, Follain's memorable poems are the answer. Christopher Middleton, the distinguished poet and translator, has chosen poems spanning Follain's entire writing life, and has written an illuminating introduction to his elegant translations.
Jean Follain was born in Canisy, Normandy in 1903. He studied law at Caen and in Paris, passing his bar exams in 1927 before entering legal practice. In 1951 he was appointed an Assize Judge for the Ardennes region. He continued to live in Paris until his death in a street accident in 1971.