Ekphrasis is examined here in terms of the creative process behind Henri Michaux’s En rêvant à partir de peintures énigmatiques (1972), a collection of prose poems inspired by the paintings of René Magritte. Ekphrasis will be primarily understood as a verbal description of a visual work of art; Michaux’s use of this technique will be seen to question its traditional boundaries and limitations. Analysing Michaux’s exploration of the processes of literary creation through ekphrasis in this text also highlights Magritte’s similarly playful interrogation of representation. A central concern here is the ekphrastic work’s constant struggle to disengage from its source of inspiration whilst being in itself a prolonged engagement with this source. Michaux’s interpretation and manipulation of images (Magritte’s paintings) and the literary form (the prose poem) are also explored in terms of his dual status as artist-writer. Given that grainy photographs are the basis of Michaux’s initial encounter with many of the paintings described, what is the status of the painting and its potential to generate ekphrasis in the age of mechanical reproduction? How might the ‘visual poetry’ of Magritte be recreated or interpreted in a poetic work?


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pp. 265-275
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