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Calligrammes by Guillaume Apollinaire
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Calligrammes (1918)

by Guillaume Apollinaire

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Prenez des lettres, des mots, des phrases. Disposez-les sur une feuille blanche de façon que les phrases, les mots, les lettres composent des figures. Plissez les yeux, et apparaissent une montre, une cravate, un jet d'eau. Associés l'un à l'autre, le dessin et l'écriture créent une forme neuve et intrigante. Et si la guerre de 14-18 accable le monde, dans le même temps, l'esprit nouveau surgit et souffle sur la poésie avec enthousiasme. Le poète-soldat Guillaume Apollinaire, de la pointe de sa plume-pinceau, ouvre des horizons : du jamais vu et du jamais lu.

L'accompagnement pédagogique fait l'historique du calligramme, depuis les idéogrammes chinois jusqu'à la poésie contemporaine, en passant par les Djinns de Victor Hugo. Privilégiant cette forme singulière, le commentaire propose de nombreux exercices d'écriture, invitant à réinterpréter les poèmes d'Apollinaire. Par ailleurs, le contexte historique est précisément mis en relation avec la construction du recueil.
  Haijavivi | Jun 5, 2019 |
J’ai accroché de manière extrêmement non homogène à ce recueil de poèmes. Certains m’ont laissée complètement indifférente, a priori les plus perchés/décousus ; d’autres m’ont intéressée mais sans plus – les dits calligrammes, justement, qui sont intéressants sur le principe, mais pas forcément émouvants poétiquement parlant ; d’autres, enfin, m’ont prise à la gorge... Cette dernière catégorie abordant principalement le thème de la guerre... Appollinaire en parle avec un mélange assez détonant de recul, d’ironie, de froideur, de violence, aussi. En y mêlant l’amour, en comparant parfois amour et guerre, avec une petite touche esthétique de-ci de-là, c’en est parfois décoiffant.
On l’aura compris, cette troisième catégorie ne m’a pas laissée indifférente. Violent et chouette. ( )
  elisala | Feb 16, 2018 |
A great work and good translation. ( )
  JayLivernois | Sep 26, 2016 |
This book came up when I was searching for World War I poetry collections, so I decided to give it a try. I discovered that modern poetry isn't my style. Some of the poems didn't make sense to me at all. Some sound ridiculous in English but aren't so strange in the original French. (I read a bilingual edition.) The translation seems to be very literal, and perhaps that doesn't work well for poetry. In general, my favorites are the poems with unusual layouts - “It's Raining/Il Pleut”, in which the lines run from top to bottom instead of left to right, and “The Stabbed Dove and the Fountain/La Colombe Poignardée et le Jet d'Eau”, written in the shape of a dove and a water fountain. The English translation I liked best is “Shadow/Ombre”, which begins:

There you are near me once more
Memories of my comrades dead in battle
Time's olive tree


This poem seems to have the most overt connection to the war. Readers who like modern poetry might want to add this collection to a World War I reading list. ( )
  cbl_tn | Apr 8, 2014 |
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(in French in bilingual edition)
A la mémoire
du plus ancien de mes camarades
RENÉ DALIZE
mort au Champ d'Honneur
le 7 mai 1917.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0520242122, Paperback)

A fully annotated, bilingual edition, Calligrammes is a key work not only in Apollinaire's own development but in the evolution of modern French poetry. Apollinaire--Roman by birth, Polish by name (Wilhelm-Apollinaris de Kostrowitski), Parisian by choice--died at thirty-eight in 1918. Nevertheless, he became one of the leading figures in twentieth-century poetry, a transitional figure whose work at once echoes the Symbolists and anticipates the work of the Surrealists.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:49 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Apollinaire is one of the leading figures in early 20th century French poetry & the 'Calligrammes' represents an important stage in his development.

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