Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Classics
ISBN: 9781590170014
Pages: 200
Publication Date: April 30, 2002

Miserable Miracle

by Henri Michaux, introduction by Octavio Paz, translated from the French by Louise Varese



This book is an exploration. By means of words, signs, drawings. Mescaline, the subject explored.” In Miserable Miracle, the great French poet and artist Henri Michaux, a confirmed teetotaler, tells of his life-transforming first encounters with a powerful hallucinogenic drug. At once lacerating and weirdly funny, challenging and Chaplinesque, his book is a breathtaking vision of interior space and a piece of stunning writing wrested from the grip of the unspeakable. 

Includes forty pages of black-and-white drawings.


Anhedonic as ever, Michaux began his hallucinogenic experiments in anything but the spirit of what we now call "recreational." He was searching for the foreign territory within himself. And though he stated that "a hand two hundred times more agile than the human hand would not be up to the task of following the speeding course of the inexhaustible spectacle" he discovered, it looks to me like he not only found that vast and endlessly transforming landscape, but claimed it...They don't evoke apparitions, but rather their opposite: vision ground down to its molecules.
— Barry Schwabsky, Artforum

One of the most original and quintessentially French writers...Michaux is the poet laureate of our insomnia.
— Anatole Broyard, New York Times Book Review

These psychedelic texts are among Michaux's most carefully crafted writings. He emerges as one of the most extraordinary voices of our (post)modernity, a true technician of the sacred and perhaps the century's most genuine Surrealist.
— Richard Sieburth, The Times Literary Supplement

Michaux excels in making us feel the strangeness of natural things and the naturalness of strange things.
— Andre Gide