The Background of Modern French Poetry: Essays and Interviews

The Background of Modern French Poetry: Essays and Interviews

The Background of Modern French Poetry: Essays and Interviews

The Background of Modern French Poetry: Essays and Interviews

Excerpt

This book brings together a series of related investigations pursued over a number of years into the major types of literary and prosodical influence involved in the progress of poetry in France from the time of Baudelaire. The first piece traces the migration of a powerful transcendental symbol from the sphere of pre-Romantic Illuminism into the deliberate appropriations and adaptations made by French writers and poets of a later period. The second attempts to estimate the limits and the value of what must be the most notorious literary influence in the poetry of the nineteenth century, the imposing but frequently miscalculated effects of Baudelaire's discovery of the work of Edgar Allan Poe. The third is more a study of innuendo than of authentic effect. Did Whitman 'influence' the Symbolists? It is far easier to say he did not than to explain why so many contemporaries of the movement suggested that he did. The first two chapters are concerned with operations ranging over ground covered at least in part of previous investigators. For the effects of Leaves of Grass I have had to rely on my own limited resources. The second part of the collection deals with the emergence of the vers libre from a hinterland of experiment and theory. While much of what is pertinent in French has been consulted in the attempt to elucidate this process, I have found nothing in English that throws light on the origins or on the nature of modern French free verse. Additional hints and notions on the foregoing topics were derived from contact with French poets of the post-Symbolist period, interrogated over thirty years ago.

All these pieces are presented as 'essays'. None claims to be an exhaustive treatment of a theme or an aspect. May this limitation . . .

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