The Poems and Aphorisms of Maurice Chapelan

This book, prefaced by the French novelist and essayist, Jeanne Cressanges, focuses on Maurice Chapelan’s poetry and aphorisms, which are an integral part of his œuvre.

His poems encompass the whole essence of the man, his very heart and soul, whereas the aphorisms express his philosophy. Chapelan is a master of the prose poem—le poème en prose—a creator of concise poetic pieces full of rich imagery and musicality. His aphorisms, too, are often poetic, and most of his work, in every genre, contains verse and philosophy. Above all, Chapelan was a moralist and a fine practitioner of l’humour noir, which he defines as la conjuration de l’horreur par le rire. He called himself un humoraliste.

Although Maurice Chapelan died in 1992 most of his books are still in print and he is remembered with affection, admiration and gratitude by those who used to relish his witty Divertissements grammaticaux in Le Figaro littéraire. He had been resident chroniqueur du langage at Le Figaro since 1961, his earlier articles appearing under the more sober heading, Usage et grammaire. He continued to write his chroniques until shortly before his death.


Mary Munro-Hill holds BA degrees in French and Latin, as well as an MA and a PhD in French. She also holds a BD and an MTh in Theology. Her career has been spent principally in teaching languages and theology in universities, colleges and schools. In retirement, she has served as a Chaplain at the University of Hull, where she was a Visiting Tutor in French Language from 1995 to 2017 and is now an Honorary Fellow in the School of Histories, Languages and Cultures. Dr Munro-Hill is a lay minister in the Church of England (Reader) and holds the Archbishops’ Award in Church Music of the Guild of Church Musicians.

“À travers l’étude pertinente des différents textes de Maurice Chapelan, Mary Munro-Hill dresse un portrait authentique de l’homme autant que de l’écrivain. Elle montre tout le côté sensible du poète qu’aucun critique n’a relevé de son vivant. Ce qu’elle montre aussi très bien c’est la diversité de la chose écrite dans laquelle il a œuvré avec grand talent : poésie, essai, journal intime, aphorisme, roman, journalisme littéraire, soucieux d’y témoigner partout et toujours, son souci du style parfait afin de coller au plus près de sa sensibilité et de sa pensée. Mary Munro-Hill montre donc les divers aspects de cette sensibilité et de cette pensée qu’il soit grammairien, philosophe, poète—j’ose dire : romantique—ou coquin, romancier érotique, critique. Ce qu’elle nous dit, c’est que cet écrivain d’aujourd’hui peut l’être de demain car il est inclassable comme les Grands du XVIIIème qu’il admirait tant.”
Jeanne Cressanges
Novelist, essayist and Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres

“Through her judicious study of the various works of Maurice Chapelan, Mary Munro-Hill has painted an authentic portrait not only of the writer but of the man. She reveals the poet’s sensitive side, which no critic identified during Chapelan’s lifetime. She also shows us clearly the entirety of his life’s labour in all its diverse genres, each of which is composed with the same great talent: poems, essays, diaries, aphorisms, novels, or literary articles in the press. Always and everywhere he is anxious to produce writing of stylistic perfection, to match the quality of his sensitivity and thought. Mary Munro-Hill succeeds in showing the many aspects of this sensitivity and thought, whether Chapelan is writing as a grammarian, as a philosopher, or as a racy poet—dare I say romantic—or penning erotic novels or literary criticism. What she tells us is that this timeless writer, in common with the Giants of the eighteenth century, whom he so admired, defies all classification and may thus belong as much to the future as to the present.”
Jeanne Cressanges
Novelist, essayist and Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres

Buy This Book

ISBN: 1-5275-6067-8

ISBN13: 978-1-5275-6067-3

Release Date: 2nd December 2020

Pages: 211

Price: £61.99

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