James Harding

Poète Maudit

The Life of Villiers de l'Isle-Adam

By A W Raitt

Clarendon Press 452pp illus £25 order from our bookshop

The late Pascal Pia was a writer who’d known everyone and seen everything. Among his memories was that of a decrepit journalist, a familiar dogsbody in newspaper offices of the nineteen-thirties, who’d arrive by the last tube train to scribble reports of boxing matches for the early editions. This was Rodolphe Darzens, one-time poet and last surviving friend of Villiers de l’ Isle-Adam. Darzens was the guardian of Villiers’ papers, and, though reduced by poverty to menial reporting jobs, never dreamed of raising much-needed cash by selling his old comrade’s manuscripts – which says something for the loyalty Villiers could inspire.

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