Henri Michaux (1899–1984) was born in Namur, Belgium, and educated at a Jesuit school in Brussels. He contemplated entering the priesthood, turned to medicine, and then, choosing exile instead, enlisted as a seaman in the merchant marine. Michaux’s travels in the Americas and Asia inspired h is travelogues Ecuador (1929) and A Barbarian in Asia (1933), the latter soon translated by Jorge Luis Borges and Sylvia Beach. Eventually settling in Paris in the 1920s, the expatriate Michaux began to write and paint, and his work drew the attention and praise of influential critics, André Gide and Maurice Blanchot among them. In 1948 Michaux’s wife died after accidentally setting her nightgown on fire; devastated, he increasingly devoted himself to distinctive calligraphic drawings. Celebrated around the world for his accomplishments as a writer and artist, Michaux was averse to publicity and public honors and in 1965 refused the French Grand Prix National des Lettres. For many years the only photograph of himself that he allowed to circulate showed his right hand holding a pen over a sheet of paper on a chaotic writing desk.