Gustave Roud, the metaphysical surveyor


Self-portrait by Gustave Roud, in his house in Carrouge (Switzerland), around 1930.

“Complete Works”, by Gustave Roud, 4 volumes in a box (Poetic Works, Translations, Journal [1916-1976]Critique) under the direction of Claire Jaquier and Daniel Maggetti, Zoé, 5,120 p., €65 until December 31, 2022, €85 thereafter.

When closing the coffin of Gustave Roud, on November 13, 1976, the day of his burial, his neighbor Claude Chappuis had this sentence: “Now you will stop prowling, Gustave. » Throughout his life, the poet did not stop walking the roads, paths and paths of his country, the Haut-Jorat, this Swiss region of plains bordered by hills, located on the Vaudois plateau, at the east of Lausanne. A country he never left. He lived there from the age of 11 until his death, with his sister Madeleine, his eldest by four years, on the family farm in Carrouge where his parents had settled in 1908, after the death of the grandfather. Roud’s poetry merges with this land, these landscapes jostled with the seasons. It merges with this desire to survey them in all directions, to rediscover them each time. “Yes, take your step: the only way to feel the land agreement that binds a man to the place of his earthly stay and allows everyone to be themselves. »

A disturbing lyricism

Editions Zoé publishes its Complete Works, and that constitutes an event, because we realize that in many respects Gustave Roud has remained little known to us. When he disappears, he leaves just ten books. It is thanks to the poet and writer Philippe Jaccottet (1925-2021) that French readers have really been able to approach these collections of disturbing lyricism and heady metaphysics. Jaccottet, who met him in 1941, at the age of 16, had a relationship with him of disciple to master which evolved into deep friendship. It is to him that Roud will ask, in total confidence, to watch over his works in the future. In 1982, he introduced a first edition of the Log of the poet (published by Bertil Galland). It is then a fragmentary, selective version, excluding most of the passages relating to everyday life. A second, more literal, detailed, critical, by Anne-Lise Delacrétaz and Claire Jaquier, will be published by Empreintes in 2004.

Held continuously from 1916 to 1976, the “Journal” is the primary writing, the crucible, the reservoir of all other texts

This Lognow entirely restored (notebooks, notebooks, diaries, scattered notes), is at the center of the four volumes of Complete Works. Held without interruption from 1916 to 1976, it is the primary writing, the crucible, the reservoir of all the other texts. Impressions, descriptions, reflections carried by the moment, upheavals of the soul, joy or torments of the body, everything is joined there, comes together there. For his poetry, Roud uses whole passages that he barely reworks. Other times, he twists memories, past moments, in a nervous, intense rhapsody. And the Log equally radiates all of his work. Whether it is his many artistic and literary criticisms, in the form of prefaces, articles, comments, in the newspapers, the extent and variety of which we can see here, or even his translations. Because the edition also reveals all this activity as a smuggler. Creative transposition. We knew his affinities, his sensitive proximity with Novalis, HolderlinTrakl, the particular attention he had had to Letters to a young poet by Rilkebut we did not know that he had become so attached to the Benedictine and poetess of the twelfthe century Hildegard of Bingen than to the writings of ancient Egypt.

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