François Cheng

François Cheng (Chinese: 程抱一; pinyin: Chéng Bàoyī; born 30 August 1929) is a Chinese-born French academician, writer, poet, and calligrapher. Cheng traveled to France in 1948 at the age of nineteen.

He is the author of essays, novels, collections of poetry and books on art written in the French language, and the translator of some of the great French poets into Chinese.

Cheng’s first works were academic studies about Chinese poetry and painting. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, he worked with the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacanon studying and translating texts from the classical Chinese canon. These exchanges informed Lacan’s late teaching on psychoanalytic interpretation. Later he began to write poems in French, before finally turning to the writing of novels.

Cheng won the 1998 Prix Femina for his novel Le Dit de Tianyi (“The Tale of Tianyi”) (Albin Michel, Paris, 1998). In 2002 he was elected to the Académie française, the first person of Asian origin to be so honored. Since 2008, he has been a member of the Fondation Chirac’s honour committe.

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The news

Latest book  ——  “Suite orphique: 99 quatrains”

Original publication date: March 7, 2024

Genres : Poetry, Fiction

Here are 99 quatrains written in recent years, an intense continuation of François Cheng’s poetic meditation, a reaffirmation of life and meaning in the confrontation with death. A “testamentary” gesture, one might say, if clarity didn’t always prevail. François Cheng’s subtle and unrivalled art is well known: simplicity, fluidity and limpidity miraculously open onto a vast and profound thought. Here, the myth of Orpheus is interpreted and reinvented as a turning point from death to life, in an astonishing synthesis that places the Greek myth alongside Taoism and Christianity. For the reader, this open and generous word is like the moving confidence of a thinker-poet who never ceases to celebrate life.

(Original text : Voici 99 quatrains écrits ces dernières années, poursuite intense de la méditation poétique de François Cheng, réaffirmation de la vie et du sens dans la confrontation à la mort. Geste “testamentaire”, dirait-on si la clarté ne l’emportait pas toujours. On connaît l’art subtil et inégalable de François Cheng : simplicité, fluidité et limpidité ouvrant miraculeusement sur une pensée vaste et profonde. Le mythe d’Orphée est ici interprété et réinventé comme un retournement de la mort vers la vie dans une étonnante synthèse qui met le mythe grec en regard du taoïsme et du christianisme. Cette parole ouverte et généreuse est pour le lecteur comme l’émouvante confidence d’un penseur-poète qui n’a de cesse de célébrer la vie.)

Tribute to François CHENG for the publication of his latest book at the College des Bernardins

Tribute to François CHENG for the publication of his latest book

Suite orphique on 16th March at the COLLEGE des BERNARDINS

The Collège des Bernardins’ major annual music festival, “Le Festival des Heures”, will pay tribute to the poet François Cheng, honorary president of the Ecritures & Spiritualités association.

After an opening concert by the Maîtrise Notre-Dame de Paris, five concerts will take place under the vaults of the Collège des Bernardins throughout the day, to the rhythm of the monastic prayers, covering a classical repertoire from early music to the present day. The fourth concert at 6.30pm will feature poetry by François Cheng read by Didier Sandre of the Comédie Française. He will be accompanied on the piano by Thierry Escaich, composer and organist, who also teaches improvisation at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris. Colette Nys-Mazure and Monique Grandjean will take part in the tribute that follows.

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  • 【Text】 Salute Chu Teh-Chun
  • 【Text】 For ZAO Wu-ki – Paintings, inks in China (ZAO Wu-ki – Peintures, encres en Chine)
  • 【Text】 Time at Tapiès (Le temps chez Tapiès)
  • 【Text】 Jacques Lacan’s smile (Le sourire de Jacques Lacan)
  • 【Text】 François CHENG’s speech at restaurant le président 
  • 【Text】 Presse release of exhibition “Les encres poétiques de François CHENG”
  • 【Text】 Reception speech by François CHENG at l’Académie française
  • 【Text】 Containment