Development 1963-1976


Back to Scotland, sense of unfinished business in Glasgow. Much stravaiging in the streets. Assistant lecturer then lecturer at the University : teaching twentieth century French poetry and the Encyclopedists. For further lectures, debates and poetry readings, founds a para-university group, The Jargon Group, lodged, for reasons of economy and black humour, in an old building due for demolition. Talks in terms of « cultural revolution » (worked out the concept for himself — no reference to Mao). En toute Candeur, early poems plus three biographical sketches, appears at the Mercure de France in Paris. White the only living author in that prestigious collection (« Domaine anglais »).


Two books, one prose, one poetry, come out simultaneously from Jonathan Cape, London : Letters from Gourgounel, the account of his Ardèche experience, and, with its very Nietzschean title, The Cold Wind of Dawn. These books are considered as being outside the norms of contemporary British literature : sort of erratic boulders.


Living in Edinburgh, thinking of Stevenson, De Quincey and other physical-mental travellers. Working at a long poem, A Walk along the Shore, which sums up his itinerarium mentis up to that point. Meets the nationalist and communist poet, Hugh MacDiarmid : affinities and differences. Feels he has emerged from his historical conditioning, finding the main lines of his geography.


Back to France, living at Pau, in the Atlantic Pyrenees, teaching at the university of Bordeaux in Pau. Founds a group and a review : Feuillage. Involved in the May ’68 movement (his slogan : ‘Not Mao, the Tao’). Expelled from the University. The students protest. On the last day he sees that someone has attached a blade of grass (a Whitmanite ‘leaf of grass’) on his letter-box. In the summer and autumn, goes for long walks in the Basque country and along the Atlantic coast.


Out of (socio-economic) work in Pau. Studies and writes a lot, facing the Pyrenees, mountains he comes to know better and better. A book of poems, The Most Difficult Area, appears from Cape Goliard, London. A London editor suggests he write a juicy, easy-selling novel. He prefers not to. As from this date, in Britain, his name is surrounded with silence. Does nothing to change this state of affairs, too engrossed in his own workfield. Persuaded, with Wilde, Yeats and Joyce, that English literature is due for a long sleep.


A the Mandala

Still in Pau, but lecturing at the leftist University of Paris VII. Founds another group, another review : The Feathered Egg. Organizes talks and readings at International House and the Mandala restaurant in Paris.


Senior Associate at the University of Paris-VII. Founds a research seminar « East-West », which will be known familiarly as « The Cold Mountain Seminar » or « The Old Pond Seminar ». Moving around Europe, from Dublin to Marseilles, Amsterdam to Barcelona. These trans-Europe trips are the basis of Travels in the Drifting Dawn. After some film work in Hong Kong, does a series of travels in South-East Asia (Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, Thailand…). Working at a manuscript : The Face of the East Wind.


White’s post as Senior Associate terminating, after a new governmental decision, at the end of two years, he finds himself reduced to the position of « foreign assistant », while continuing the same work and directing research. The paradoxes of his situation are piling up.

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