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Roche, Denis 1937-

Roche, Denis 1937-


Born November 21, 1937 (some sources say November 25), in Paris, France. Education: Attended Collège Stanislas, Paris, France. ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Editions du Seuil, 27, rue Jacob, 75006 Paris, France.


Writer, poet, critic, translator, and editor. Éditions Tchou, Paris, France, editor, 1964-70.


Récits complets; poèmes, Éditions du Seuil (Paris, France), 1963.

Les Idées centésimales de Miss Élanize. Poèmes. Éditions du Seuil (Paris, France), 1964.

(Translator and presenter) Ezra Pound, Les cantos pisans, Editions de l'Herne (Paris, France), 1965, reprinted, Flammarion (Paris, France), 1986.

Éros énergumène suivi du Poème du 29 avril 62, Éditions du Seuil (Paris, France), 1968, reprinted, 2001.

Carnac, le mégalithisme, archéologie, typologie, histoire, mythologie, photographs by de Jean-Robert Masson, Tchou (Paris, France), 1969.

Anthologie de la poésie française du XVIIe siècle, Tchou (Paris, France), 1969.

La Liberté ou la mort, réfléchissez et choisissez, 1789, Tchou (Paris, France), 1969.

(Editor, with Monique Nathan) Dylan Thomas, Oeuvres, Éditions du Seuil (Paris, France), 1970.

Le Mécrit; poemes, précédé de Lutte et rature et de L'aréopagite, par Philippe Sollers, Éditions du Seuil (Paris, France), 1972.

(Translator and presenter) Ezra Pound, e.e. cummings, and Charles Olson, 3 pourrissements poétiques, l'Herne (Paris, France), 1972.

(Editor and translator, with Francis Ledoux, Anne Villelaur, and Marcelle Sibon) Charlotte Bronte, Patrick Brandwell, and Raymond Belbour, Choix [d'écrits de jeuenesse] établi et présenté par Raymond Bellour … , J.J. Pauvert (Paris, France), 1972.

Louve basse: ce n'est pas le mot qui fait la guerre, c'est la mort: roman (novel), Éditions du Seuil (Paris, France), 1976, reprinted, 1992.

Notre antéfixe, Flammarion (Paris, France), 1978.

Dépôts de savoir et de technique, Éditions du Seuil (Paris, France), 1980.

Notre antéfixe (fiction), Éditions du Seuil (Paris, France), 1980.

Autoportraits photographiques: 1898-1981: brève rencontre (l'autoportrait en photographie), Centre Georges Pompidou: Herscher (Paris, France), 1981.

Légendes de Denis Roche (autobiographical essays and photos), Gris Bana Editeur (Montpellier, France), 1981.

La disparition des lucioles: réflexions sur l'acte photographique, Editions de l'Etoile (Paris, France), 1982.

(Translator) Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, Oncle Vania; La cerisaie, Grand Écrivains (France), 1987.

Denis Roche: photographies 1965-1989: Espace photographique de Paris, 24 octobre-3 décembre 1989, Espace photo (Paris, France), 1989.

Ellipse et laps: l'oeuvre photographique, preface by d'Hubert Damisch, Maeght (Paris, France), 1991.

Dans la maison du sphinx: essais sur la matière littéraire, Éditions du Seuil (Paris, France), 1992.

La poésie est inadmissible: oeuvres poétiques completes (complete collection of poems), Éditions du Seuil (Paris, France), 1995.

(Translator) Ivan Sergeevich Turgenev Un mois à campagne, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1995.

Boîtier de mélancolie: la photographie en 100 photographies, Hazan (Paris, France), 1999.

(With Gilles Mora) Denis Roche: Les preuves du temps, Éditions du Seuil (Paris, France), 2001.

Author of text for several art books; author of prefaces to books, including Bernard Plossu: les paysages intermédiaries, by Bernard Plossu, Centre George Pompidou (Paris, France), 1988; works have been published in German and Spanish.


Denis Roche is primarily known as a French experimental poet and literary critic but has also written experimental fiction. Commenting on Roche's poetry in an interview article with the author on the Arras Web site, Serge Gavronsky noted that Roche once admitted that he wrote "‘romantic’ poems, flourishes that may well have resembled those lyrical atrocities that are still practiced by budding poets in France and in French-speaking countries." Gavronsky, however, went on to write that the author "now has imposed on himself a particular rigor, mixed with flashes of Surrealism both in his use of the unexpected juxtapositioning of lines and in the radical syntactical breaks."

Associated with the French Tel Quel literary group from the literary journal of the same name, Roche has gained renown as a highly experimental poet who writes what some have referred to as "anti-poetry." For example, in a review of the collection Le Mécrit; poemes, a Times Literary Supplement contributor noted that the volume "consists … of disconnected fragments of language sewn together by the arbitrary interruption of line-ends, into a sort of linguistic patchwork quilt." Commenting on his association with "antipoetry," the Times Literary Supplement contributor called the author "more extreme than most." Roche's seven collections of poetry published between 1962 and 1972 have been gathered into the single volume titled La poésie est inadmissible: oeuvres poétiques completes. Commenting on the volume and Roche's reputation as a poet, World Literature Today contributor Emile J. Talbot noted: "Roche's verse has not always been well received, but it represents a serious intellectual effort that cannot be dismissed."

In the 1970s the author largely moved away from writing experimental poetry to focus on criticism and fiction. In his novel Louve basse: ce n'est pas le mot qui fait la guerre, c'est la mort: roman, the author continues with his experimental writing by grouping together thirteen texts of subliminal type writings. Largely, what holds the book together as a "novel" is the narrator's voice and several recurring themes such as sex and death. Writing in the French Review, Michael Bishop noted that the book "reveals an at once anguishing and yet frenzied and even exhilarated obsession with the tensions and paradoxes of the dual fact of an all-pervasive death and an oddly persisting minimal and counteractive vital energy."

Dépôts de savoir et de technique contains a variety of texts either written or gathered by the author, some of which were previously published. The writings are pieced together from a variety of sources, including novels, essays, brochures, invoices, correspondence, photographs, and even recorded conversations. Writing in the French Review, Michael Bishop referred to the author's intent as trying to reflect "something of the true hum and rhythm of the world, the extraordinary ‘music’ that we each make and gather within ourselves yet that is never otherwise heard." Noting that the texts are "marked by a certain coldness and dryness," Bishop added that they also "pulse and teem with life, at once individual and collective." In a review in the Times Literary Supplement, David Gascoyne wrote: "The range of the savoir deposited for exhibition in this book is astonishing: the 110 notes and commentaries appended to the final dépôt … alone contain quotes from or references to, among dozens of other sources, an entry in Michelet's Journal concerning Rubens and Héléne Froment, John Rechy's The Sexual Outlaw, the Ned Kelly gang, … classic Japanese literature, Blake, the contemporary poet Jacques Roubaud, … [and] Conrad's Heart of Darkness." Gascoyne also noted: "Inserted in the dépôts are also to be found a considerable number of autobiographical details, so that the reader not knowing much about Denis Roche as a person is easily able to gather that he is a man of many parts." Gascoyne also wrote that "anyone interested in the current state of letters abroad will probably find these concoctions as absorbingly stimulating as they are undoubtedly ingenious, and that they display abundant signs of professionalism and dedication."



Prigent, Christian, Denis Roche, Seghers (Paris, France), 1977.

Roche, Denis, Légendes de Denis Roche, Gris Bana Editeur (Montpellier, France), 1981.


French Review, October, 1977, Michael Bishop, review of Louve basse: ce n'est pas le mot qui fait la guerre, c'est la mort: roman, pp. 138-139; February, 1982, Michael Bishop, review of Dépôts de savoir et de technique, pp. 442-443.

Times Literary Supplement, January 19, 1973, review of Mécrit; poemes, p. 69; October, 1980, David Gascoyne, review of Dépôts de savoir et de technique, p. 1088.

World Literature Today, spring, 1996, Emile J. Talbot, review of La poésie est inadmissible: oeuvres poétiques completes, p. 357.


Arras, (June 16, 2006), Serge Gavronsky, "Denis Roche,"interview with author.

Jean-Michel Maulpoix & Co., http://www.maulpoix. net/ (May 5, 2006), Jean-Michel Maulpoix, "French Poetry since 1950: Tendencies II."

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