Volume 64, Issue 3, Summer 2020
Special Topic: Vulnerability
Jean Wahl, Russell J. Duvernoy, Christopher Lura, Anna-Marie Hansen
Poetry as Spiritual Exercise
“La Poésie Comme Exercice Spirituel” first appeared in a 1942 issue of Revue Fontaine edited by Jacques and Raissa Maritain and was subsequently republished in Wah’s 1948 text Poésie, Pensée, Perception, published by Calmann-Lévy. The following is a translation of the Fontaine version. I have noted all of the variations from the latter version in the notes. As I emphasize in my commentary, the piece is a notable display of Wahl’s eclectic range of influences. Most importantly, it shows the extent to which his interest in radical empiricism and process metaphysics informs his creative approach to the intersection of poetics and metaphysics. These interests are not explicitly named in the essay, and yet their influence is pervasive. The essay also includes several moments of substantial resonance with the work of Gilles Deleuze, as noted in the commentary.