Le Parti pris des choses is a collection of prose poems by French writer Francis Ponge, first published in 1942. Considered one of the masterpieces of twentieth-century French literature, this work is a poetic meditation on nature and the objects that surround us, treated as beings in their own right and explored with striking precision and meticulousness.
In it, Ponge develops a poetics of the object, seeking to capture the very essence of the most modest things and restore them in all their beauty and simplicity. The author's style is characterized by great rigor and sobriety, giving pride of place to meticulous observation and precise description of objects. Words are chosen with extreme precision, and sentences are short and spare, as if to better capture the essence of things.
Le Parti pris des choses is thus a book of great formal beauty, where poetry is nourished by the contemplation of the most concrete reality. But it is also a profoundly humanist book, inviting us to see in every object that surrounds us a part of ourselves, a part of our history and culture. It's a book at once simple and complex, which never ceases to fascinate and question the reader.
"Like the sponge, the orange aspires to regain its composure after undergoing the ordeal of expression. But where the sponge always succeeds, the orange never does: for its cells have burst, its tissues torn. While the bark alone limply recovers its shape thanks to its elasticity, an amber liquid has spilled out, accompanied by refreshment, sweet perfumes, certainly, - but often also by the bitter awareness of a premature expulsion of pips.
Should we take sides between these two ways of enduring oppression? -- The sponge is only muscle, and fills with wind, clean water or dirty water as the case may be: these gymnastics are despicable. The orange tastes better, but it's too passive, -- and this fragrant sacrifice... it's giving the oppressor too much credit, really.
But it's not enough to have said about the orange to have recalled its particular way of perfuming the air and delighting its tormentor. Emphasis must be placed on the glorious coloring of the resulting liquid which, better than lemon juice, forces the larynx to open wide for the pronunciation of the word as well as for the ingestion of the liquid, without any apprehensive pouting of the fore-mouth whose papillae it does not ruffle.
And we're left speechless to admit the admiration aroused by the tender, fragile, pink oval balloon in this thick, moist tampon-buvard, whose extremely thin but highly pigmented, acerbically sapid epidermis is just rough enough to catch the light with dignity on the fruit's perfect shape.
But at the end of an all-too-short study, carried out as roundly as possible, we must come to the seed. This seed, the shape of a tiny lemon, is the color of white lemon wood on the outside, and the green of peas or tender sprouts on the inside. It is in it that, after the sensational explosion of the Venetian lantern of flavors, colors and fragrances that is the fruity balloon itself, we find -- the relative hardness and greenness (not entirely insipid, by the way) of the wood, the branch, the leaf: in short, a small but certain reason for the fruit's existence."
Francis Ponge - Le parti pris des choses (1942)