French poet Yves Bonnefoy dead at 93

[Literature ★★★]


(P1) Bonnefoy was born in 1923 in Tours, in central France, to a railway worker father and a schoolteacher mother.

(P2) In his early career, his work tended towards the surreal but he quickly turned away from this movement and his first classic, the 1953 “Du mouvement et de l’immobilite de Douve” (“On the motion and immobility of Douve”), went against the prevailing contemporary literary trends.

(P3) His writing career extended well into his 80’s and he picked up several literary awards along the way, including the 1987 Goncourt prize for poetry.

(P4) He acquired legions of fans that admired his lack of attachment to a “concept.”

(P5) “What saddens me is to see that our education system does not give poetry the place it deserves,” he told French radio in a recent interview.

(P6) “Everything around us can serve as an inspiration for poetry,” he said, which he saw as “a way of discovering the fundamental meaning of life.”

WORDS: 156


VOCABULARY: railway, surreal, prevailing, legions, fundamental


If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly, summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. What type of literature do you like? Why?
  3. Do you think poetry deserves more attention in schools? Why or why not?
  4. Do you admire Mr. Bonnefoy for his lack of attachment to a “concept”? Why or why not?


  1. Which part of France was he born in?
  2. What prize was bestowed on him?
  3. He didn’t have a lot of followers. (T or F)
  4. Who recently spoke with Mr. Bonnefoy?
  5. According to Mr. Bonnefoy, not all that exists can influence poetry. (T or F)


What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • tended towards (P2)
  • literary trends (P2)
  • extended well into the 80’s (P3)
  • the place it deserves (P3)

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Image source: © Hector Guerrero, AFP

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