The Answer to Lord Chandos

The Answer to Lord Chandos

In defense of the poetic, Pascal Quignard pens an impassioned reply to von Hofmannsthal's despondent Lord Chandos

In 1902, Hugo von Hofmannsthal's Lord Chandos Letter articulated a deep crisis of faith in language. Having "lost completely the ability to think or speak of anything coherently," the titular character abandons literature in favor of silence. In The Answer to Lord Chandos, a text that was meticulously crafted over 41 years, Pascal Quignard passionately challenges this withdrawal and urges us not to forsake the power of poetry. His exhortation meditates on Emily Brontë, Handel, Rembrandt and more to demonstrate how literature rejuvenates our connection to the universe. In an introduction to this first English edition, French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy illuminates the core question animating this debate, which has resonated within literature since its inception: can poetry give access to the real? Quignard's resounding answer offers a testament to the immense value of literary expression.
Pascal Quignard (born 1948) is the author of A Terrace in Rome and more than 60 fiction and nonfiction titles. He has won both the Prix Goncourt, France's top literary prize, and the Formentor Prize for Letters.

Publication Date: 
April 2, 2024