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  • The Made and the Found: Essays, Prose and Poetry in Honour of Michael Sheringham eds. by Patrick McGuinness And Emily McLaughlin
  • Emma Wilson
The Made and the Found: Essays, Prose and Poetry in Honour of Michael Sheringham. Edited by Patrick McGuinness and Emily McLaughlin. Cambridge: Legenda, 2017. x + 193 pp., ill.

In an address at the memorial service for Michael Sheringham in All Souls at the end of the summer in 2016, Laura Marcus invited us to imagine, in some world, Micky still sitting on the terrace at the Camargo Foundation, drinking wine in the sun with Cilla and friends. This fine book, The Made and the Found, edited by Patrick McGuinness and Emily McLaughlin, conceived as a project when Micky was still alive, and with his involvement, testifies to the liveness, the extraordinary vivacity, of Michael Sheringham's lifelong passion for French. Micky's words return here in all their felicity. His appetite, brilliance, and distinct sensibility are intensely present. The editors speak of Micky 'drawn by what was accidental, unsystematic, eccentric' (p. ix). They see him glorying in 'the overspill of things'. They speak of Micky as their 'friend and colleague' and this book is a beautiful act of camaraderie (ibid.). In a defence of critical study of contemporary writing, Laurent Demanze writes of how the critic of his or her own time takes on the role not of an observer, but of an agent engaged in, conscious of, responsible for, his or her present. There is dazzling proof of the engagement of Micky's work in the writing this book holds from the very poets whose words Micky interpreted. The volume opens with an incandescent poem by Yves Bonnefoy contemplating a burnt interior, flame, light, 'Saão Domingos, après l'incendie'. The line-up continues with Jacques Réda's dream-city tribute 'L'Urbaniste', Jacques Roubaud's homage, 'Mieux que nous', and Anne Portugal's 'Mon selfie avec Michael S', vibrating with life, 'd'une grande douceur' (p. 94). Pierre Alféri, in [End Page 485] 'Bref', catches Micky's passion for the new, the flash, the instant, the punctum, the haiku, caught too by Suzanne Guerlac in a shimmering piece, 'Little Cuts in Time'. Alféri brings back the words of Baudelaire, the dedication of Le Spleen de Paris, 'Mon cher ami, je vous envoie un petit ouvrage …', words of another poet which seem to address Micky across time, in a tribute to Micky's own urban, formal poetic predilection. In a tour-de-force essay, 'Proust's Bifurs', drawing on Micky on Leiris, on words that cause a swerve in direction, a bifurcation, Michael Lucey reaches the gorgeous thought: 'Albertine is like a word from another language for the narrator, as, perhaps, he must be for her' (p. 154). Language is often the subject here—Clive Scott on bio-linguistic diversity, Alison Finch on wit—and so is space—the listing of houses lived in, Deguy on the agony of Venice, McGuinness, in a prose poem, on a train running so fast that 'life inside and out takes place in some other zone of time' (p. 175)—and manifestly the everyday, in references to Everyday Life: Theories and Practices from Surrealism to the Present (2006), which, of all of Micky's writings, has had the strongest influence on thought about the made and the found, literature and the world. The self is also there, that sensitivity of Micky's to writing where 'the textual and the existential are indissolubly fused' (French Autobiography: Devices and Desires, Rousseau to Perec (1993), p. x). Shards of Micky's life are present. In a lovely piece, 'Cairo Creole', looking out to a French-speaking world—as does James Williams writing on the kaleidoscopic images of Mati Diop's Mille soleils—Marina Warner mentions Micky's French-speaking mother growing up in the Coptic community in Egypt. And Micky himself, in the address, 'On Turning-Points', with which the book closes, recounts a moment of realization, as he sat in a board meeting in a university building in Oxford, that this was formerly the school his father had...


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