Hans Jean Arp : the making of a bilingual writer
The thesis relates to the German and French-language writings of Hans Jean Arp (*Strasburg 1886: +Basle 1966). Unlike previous critics who have dealt with Arp's poetry in either one medium or the other, we concern ourselves with the evolution of his work as a whole, comparing the German output with the French. We concentrate especially on the earlier part of Arp's career - 1903-1924. This phase proves decisive, from the viewpoint of both thematic-cum-stylistic development and literary-linguistic orientation. Part One investigates the biographical and theoretical background. Assisted by interviews with Arp's family, in our biographical chapter we chiefly examine his early environment in Wilhelminian Alsace, which prepared him for his future career as a poet in two languages, strongly biased towards German. His later life is summarised. In our theoretical chapter we focus upon Arp's initial important views on "concrete" poetry, briefly indicating subsequent developments. We trace the roots of Arp's philosophy in his bicultural heritage, particularly the German side. Part Two studies Arp's poetical writings. One chapter treats the German-language juvenilia (1903-1905); three chapters are devoted to the seminal German Dada anthologies (1910-1924) and to contemporary French-language publications; a final chapter surveys the remainder of the bilingual output (1925-1966). Comparing theory with practice, we highlight the salient developments, textual types, and the phenomenon of textual variation in Arp's poetry, as well as its relationship with German and French cultural tradition. In contrast with many other Arp scholars, we adopt an interpretative approach, based on our own "communicationalist" conception of poetry. Ultimately, we draw the conclusion that Arp must be viewed as a bilingual poet, writing effective texts in two idioms. However, the Germanic bias throughout the years of breakthrough (1903-1924) is crucial. Arp's German poetry always maintains a most definite qualitative and quantitative superiority over the French. Our thesis contains the most complete bibliography of primary literature to date.