Malcolm De Chazal


Biography of Malcolm De Chazal

Malcolm de Chazal (12 September 1902 – 1 October 1981) was a Mauritian writer, painter, and visionary, known especially for his Sens-Plastique, a work consisting of several thousand aphorisms and pensées.

Chazal was born in Vacoas of a French family long established in Mauritius and wrote all his works in French. Except for six years at Louisiana State University, where he received an engineering degree, he spent most of his time in Mauritius where he worked as an agronomist on sugar plantations and later for the Office of Telecommunications.

In 1940 he began to publish in Mauritius a series of volumes consisting of hundreds of numbered thoughts and ideas entitled Pensées. In 1945, a seventh volume of Pensées, bound with another collection of unnumbered aphorisms entitled Sens-Plastique appeared, and two years later a separate Sens-Plastique, Volume II, appeared. It was this latter volume on which the Gallimard edition of 1948 was based that brought Chazal into prominence in France.He was hailed as a surrealist by André Breton.

Chazal's other writings include notably La Vie Filtrée (1949), a collection of essays that elaborate upon the ideas found in Sens-Plastique, Sens Magique (1957) and Poémes (1968 ), gnomic verses that dramatize the experiences described in Sens-Plastique, and Petrusmok (1951), the spiritual history of Mauritius found in its natural surroundings.

Chazal took up painting in the 1950s at the suggestion of Georges Braque. Unlike the speculative aphoristic character of his best-known writings, his paintings concentrated on natural forms and landscapes in a primitive, emblematic style.

Sens-Plastique has been translated into English by Irving Weiss in a volume published by Green Integer (2008) as Sens-Plastique.

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