Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Archive for February 24th, 2013

“The library is on fire…”

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René Char

The Library is on Fire. These were the code words [during the German occupation] for a parachute drop to the Céreste maquis of the French Resistance—words that acquired a mysterious life when one of the containers exploded and set fire to the forest, alerting the Gestapo to the position of René Char’s group. The Frenchmen barely escaped with their lives. And the poet thought the fire was proof of the power of language to shape the world. “I believe in the magic and in the authority of words,” he told his superiors in London, insisting the code be changed.

Christopher Merrill, in This Smoke That Carried Us: Selected Poems of René Char

Written by nevalalee

February 24, 2013 at 9:50 am

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