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Title: The poetics of the quest : a study of development and continuity in the poetry of Guillaume Apollinaire
Author: Harrow, Susan
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1988
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This inquiry addresses questions of continuity and development in Apollinaire's poetry in the major collections Alcools and Calligrammes. Beginning from the premise that continuity and development are the complementary forces which shape Apollinaire's poetics, we set out to reconstruct the search for lyricism in the major poems and key series of poems. Our study of continuity and development is inscribed in the framework of a quest narrative that spans the inception and the conclusion of Apollinaire's poetic venture. The earliest poems of Alcools establish the medieval setting, resurrecting the key figure of Merlin, the Eternal Enchanter and Prophet through whom the poet projects his search for identity, love and poetry. The quest is constantly renewed and transformed across the imaginary space of Alcools and Calligrammes. We explore its metamorphoses in six chapters, beginning with a joint study of 'La Chanson du Mal-Aime' and the major post-1916 poems, particularly 'Les Collines': this allows us to fix the liminal points of Apollinaire's modernist endeavour and thus establish the foundations for a study of continuity and development across the corpus of poems. We then turn to the earliest poems of Alcools and the origins of a search for style that necessitates the expulsion of the Symbolist aesthetic. Pursuing the study of development and continuity leads us to contest the changement de front theory: in this we look to the poetry of 1908 and 1909 as a transitional phase. The fire poems re-enact the post-Symbolist purification of lyricism whilst the 1909 works embrace a human dimension that anticipates the deeper emotion of 'Le Voyageur' and 'Zone'. If the 1912 poems sustain the resonant lyric note of the earlier poems of Alcools, they anticipate the simultanist adventure of 'Ondes', a phase in which Apollinaire combines a more radical formal experiment with a reaffirmation of the permanency of the human quest. In the final chapter we examine the war poetry of Calligrammes. The war experience gives a final ironic endorsement to the quest and presents the poet with new challenges. Apollinaire responds by combining intensity of expression with depth and range of vision in an all-embracing modernist lyric that gives powerful expression to human experience.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available