There is no chapter on Caillois at V&R but blog readers will have seen his name plenty. I have just finished reading his unusual 1970 The Writing of Stones. It’s a thin, beautiful volume, published in English by UVA in 1985. Long out of print in English, copies run $700! It’s a shame, as few will have access to this super work.
The book is a lyrical commentary on Caillois’s own stone collection and the patterns he finds in the stones. There are lovely photographs throughout (and these might explain the cost of the book secondhand). Here’s a picture of a stone that seems to depict the birth of a chick:
I absolutely love Caillois’s idea of the natural fantastic. It is the claim that there are analogies throughout nature. He does not go so far as to argue that God has shaped these patterns, but he does think nature is a unitary phenomenon and thus throughout nature resonances of likeness are found. He also thinks that myth is an outgrowth of nature itself, thus nature is fantastical.
What a great resource for a fashion collection this book would make.
Linking aesthetics and metaphysics, Caillois writes:
“Man has unknowingly inherited a capital made up of immemorial audacities, unsuccessful risks, and ruinous wagers, an endeavor which though for long persisted in vain was one day to foster in him a new, rebellious grace, combining hesitation, calculation, choice, patience, tenacity, and challenge” (p. 82).