René Daumal  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

René Daumal (16 March, 1908 - 21 May, 1944) was a French writer, philosopher and poet. He was born in Boulzicourt, Ardennes, France.

In his late teens his avant-garde poetry was published in France's leading journals, and in his early twenties, although courted by André Breton co-founded, as a counter to Surrealism and Dada, a literary journal, "Le Grand Jeu" with three friends, collectively known as the Simplists, including poet Roger Gilbert-Lecomte . He is best known in the U.S. for two novels A Night of Serious Drinking and the allegorical novel Mount Analogue: A Novel of Symbolically Authentic Non-Euclidean Adventures in Mountain Climbing both based upon his friendship with Alexander de Salzmann, a pupil of G. I. Gurdjieff.

Daumal was self-taught in Sanskrit and translated some of the Tripitaka Buddhist canon into French, as well as translating the Japanese Zen scholar D.T. Suzuki into French.

Daumal's sudden and premature death of tuberculosis on May 21, 1944 in Paris was in all probability hastened by youthful experiments with a heady cocktail of drugs and psycho-active chemicals, the principal culprit amongst these no doubt being carbon tetrachloride. He died leaving his novel Mount Analogue unfinished, having worked on it up to the very day of his death.

The film The Holy Mountain by Alejandro Jodorowsky is based largely on Daumal's Mount Analogue.

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