Le maudit portrait (Du coq à lâme) (French Edition)

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All these create an unstable poetic climate. For Tristan Tzara this marked a reaction away from a 'mallarmeisme savant' back to a tradition: allant de Villon, a travers Ronsard.

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Alcools, Club du meilleur livre, pp. His use of the pun 'le calembour createur' for Mme Durry and 'le calembour tremplin' for Max Jacob, opens up subtle perspectives. The image plays an important role in Apollinaire's poetry but in a somewhat different way from Symbolism. It is rare to find in his work a poem which is entirely constructed around a central image or series of images: perhaps 'Les Sapins' is the only example in Alcools.

He does not favour the structure implicit in poems like Baudelaire's 'La Ghevelure' or the 'Spleen' series and had rather turned away from this, as witness his statement in a letter: On s'est habitu6 aux images.

Apollinaire's inexhaustible curiosity furnishes the diverse elements to make an image combining the traditional with the modern by a striking adaptation of a pastoral image to the context of the city: Bergere 6 tour Eiffel le troupeau des ponts bele ce soir 'Zone', 1. It was a long-held belief of his that even the most insignificant object could hold powerful meanings; in 'L'Esprit nouveau et les poetes' he insisted that 'le moindre fait est pour le poete le postulat, le point de depart d'une immensite inconnue ou flambent les feux de joie de significations multiples', and again, 'On peut partir d'un fait quotidien: un mouchoir qui tombe peut etre pour le poete le levier avec lequel il soulevera tout un univers'.

It was this emphasis on the presence of poetry in the most banal aspects of life which he might have found in Baudelaire which made Apollinaire one of the sources of Surrealism. Andre Breton thought that Apollinaire's 'trouvailles d'images' had the effect of 'creations spontanees' and Tristan Tzara wrote admiringly of his 'images de choc'.

Certain obsessive images emerge from the volume. Light signifies lucidity, hope, confidence, the future and, combined with fire, the magic and dangerous alcool as well as the poet's sacrifice in creation. Darkness and particularly ombres represent despair, the subconscious, the past seen not as the repository of happiness but as a dead weight across the future.

Firstly, the denial of eloquence practised by Apollinaire has become an accepted ambition of young poets in England and America as well as in France. He finally destroyed any lingering idea of hierarchy of poetic vocabulary. Next, Apollinaire's consciousness of the discontinuity of the human experience of reality is sharp and very much in accord with twentieth-century rejections of nineteenth-century concepts of literary realism. The structure of the poems of Alcools rarely depends on narrative structures or time sequences rigorously preserved.

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Linear time is confused by a subtle use of tenses. The controlling power of the imagination over the memory recreates the past and the present into a Proustian dimension where both are equally privileged. Then there is the experience of alienation, most strongly described in 'Zone' but apparent even in the earlier Rhineland poems. Its taste is sharp and disturbing although it never seeks the black hopelessness of Sartre's La Nausee.

Here again Apollinaire is dealing with a key theme of twentieth-century literature. The struggle with angoisse is never very far beneath the surface although the resultant depressions never last for very long. It is this affirmation of optimism which was recognised by Paul Eluard when he said of Apollinaire in a broadcast in Celui qui a dit: 'La grande force est le desir, savait en effet que le monde n'est pas donne une fois pour toutes et que 1'homme est en meme temps la mesure et la source de toutes choses. A y regarder de pres, il n'y a, dans 1'oeuvre d'Apollinaire, que cette certitude cent fois avouee, a travers les themes les plus diflfdrents.

Apollinaire nous dit sans cesse 1'avenir en travail dans 1'esprit humain. What does come through with increasing force is his view of the role of the poet as creator. It is a revival of the nineteenthcentury view of the poet-magus in Baudelaire, Mallarme and Rimbaud but its reformulation by Apollinaire, firmly in the context of his own age, takes on a considerable significance. Quoting Apollinaire's view that 'la surprise est le plus grand ressort nouveau', Andre Breton went on to say: 'le surrealisme, non seulement s'est range a cette opinion, mais s'en est fait une loi imprescriptible' Entretiens avec Andre Parinaud, N.

Lastly, there is Apollinaire's dazzling handling of a diversity of verse forms and of images. His use of the octosyllabic line proved a powerful example for both Aragon and Eluard.


His paradoxical nature provides an undogmatic example of the potential of poetry. Poet of the city, he is also a nature poet of deep perceptiveness; poet of bonte, he is also a poet of war; poet of the new, he is also a poet whose debt to the past is always generously acknowledged. Apollinaire solved unselfconsciously the problem that was to confound so many writers of Surrealism and of the later 'underground'.

If poetry is to reach a wider audience and is to be rescued from the jealous hands of an elite remembering Lautreamont's much-applauded statement that 'la poesie doit etre faite par tous et non par un' , it must have as its first requirement an ability to communicate directly. The apostles of the avant-garde demand experimental forms and so alienate the very converts they seek, readers whose literary upbringing has been strictly in the most conventional of forms: in this way they succeed in speaking only to another albeit different elite.

There is, in Apollinaire, a sense of discretion which bears in mind the abilities of the reader and bends the whole poem to the end of communication and pleasure.

Apollinaire had a genuinely poetic mind in the sense defined by T. Eliot in an essay on 'The Metaphysical Poets' first published in : When a poet's mind is perfectly equipped for its work, it is constantly amalgamating disparate experience; the ordinary man's experience is chaotic, irregular and fragmentary. The latter falls in love, or reads Spinoza, and these two experiences have nothing to do with each other, or with the noise of his typewriter or the smell of cooking; in the mind of the poet these experiences are always forming new wholes. Introduction 35 When the poetic mind is eager to record and illuminate human experience as was Apollinaire's, then the resulting poetry will be fresh and will bring a new direction to lyricism.

Apollinaire's ambition was to please, to explore and to communicate with as wide a range of readers as possible: it is an ambition which is at once modest, human and, above all, immensely difficult. Ventre affame n'a pas d'oreilles Et les convives mastiquaient a qui mieux mieux Ah! En j'ai eu pour une jeune fille qui etait peintre un gout esthetique qui confinait a Padmiration et participe encore de ce sentiment.

Elle m'aimait ou le croyait et je crus ou plutot m'efforcai de 1'aimer, car je ne 1'aimais pas alors. Nous n'etions connus en ce temps-la ni 1'un ni 1'autre et je commensais mes meditations et ecrits esthetiques qui devaient avoir une influence en Europe et meme ailleurs.


Je puis dire que je fis mon possible pour faire partager mon admiration a 1'univers. Elle voulait que nous nous mariions ce que je ne voulus jamais, cela dura jusqu'en ou elle ne m'aima plus. C'etait fini, mais tant de temps passe ensemble, tant de souvenirs communs, tout cela s'en allant j'en eus une angoisse que je pris pr sic de 1'amour et je souffris jusqu'au moment de la guerre T. This account of the poem as a 'poeme de fin d'amour' belies the wider spread of its themes in which the lament for love is overshadowed by a nostalgia for lost youth, for a dead faith and by a deep sense of alienation.

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From the beginning on a sunny morning when a contemporary Paris breathes a confident optimism in the future, the climate and atmosphere of the poem darken into a growing depression where lost love, death, youth and a wasted life are mirrored in the other face of the urban present: its avarice, sordidness and misery. The alarms occasioned by Apollinaire's arrest on suspicion of the theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in followed by the end of his love-affair with Marie Laurencin, the woman referred to in the letter quoted above, were twin crises which brought about the revaluation of his situation.

The poem is a kind of balance sheet in which the poet takes a hard, disabused look at his life and his art. If'La Chanson du mal-aime' has hope concealed in its epigraph and in the conclusion that, if suffering is the lifeblood of art, then art has the power to transcend it, there are no such consolations in 'Zone'. The poem ranges widely in space over the scenes of Apollinaire's life and, in time, from his early youth to the present when, as a man of 32, he looks back on his life.

An early version of the poem, entitled 'Cri', is published by M. Gabrielle Picabia has described in an article 'Apollinaire', Transition, 6, 50 how she was joined in the autumn of by Apollinaire, Picabia and Marcel Duchamp in a big farmhouse in the Jura where she was staying. Apollinaire, with his customary avid curiosity, fell in love with the region and its customs; 'Its borderland, known as "the Zone", had obtained, thanks to Voltaire, a certain relaxation of customs restrictions which still obtained', wrote Gabrielle Picabia and it was here, when reading an extract to his friends, that Apollinaire decided to call the poem 'Zone'.

Zjone is also the name given to that indeterminate area lying outside the former walls of Paris which is neither town nor country. Its discontinuity in time, space and thematic emphasis is marked; the range of images is vast and the registers of style vary considerably. As in James Joyce's Ulysses there is a formal unity of time since the poem covers a span from morning to the following dawn, unity of place as the poem 'happens' in Paris, and a certain unity of action since the poem concerns one man's investigation of himself.

But time is overridden, the poet's mind covers Europe, the themes multiply. The search for identity is central, the constant centrality of the poet is the strong thread that binds the poem together. There is also an overall dramatic tension caused by the original use of the pronouns je and tu. These two voices are absent in the original version which is written in the first person. The careful elaboration of an interior dialogue with the attribution of a series of comments and questions to a voice using the pronoun tu and responses by a voice using je heightens dramatically the inner meaning of the poem and makes more searching the quest.

Of course, both are the voices of the poet but they are subtly distinguished one from the other: the voice using tu is Apollinaire's alter ego, his familiar and inquisitor; the other, using je, is the repentant sinner, acknowledging the sad truth of the accusations. The dialogue cuts into single lines as in Commentaries p.

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There is certainly a similarity of content—the errance, the cast of prostitutes, Jews, Poles, the quest for a faith, the ending in bleak despair. The differences are more important: 'Zone' is written in a freer verse form, the registers of style are more varied, the themes more complex, and above all, the dialoguing voices give an added richness to the texture. On the relationships between the two poets, see M. Poupon, Apollinaire et Cendrars Archives des Lettres modernes, 2, , Samuel Beckett has done a magnificent translation of the poem; published without signature in Transition, 50, 6, it has now been issued separately Dublin, Dolmen Press; London, Calder and Boyars, See: R.

Apollinaire reduced the tone of some of the lines originally composed for the poem. The image is a surprising and pleasing combination of the traditional pastoral scene reinterpreted in modern terms. Port-Aviation was the airfield near Paris. Its functional architecture is contrasted with that of Tantiquit6 grecque et romaine'. An earlier version read: Mais j'ai perdu 1'habitude de croire et la honte me retient. Note the change of person. An allusion to the growing interest in poster art which had been given a considerable impetus by Toulouse-Lautrec.