APOLLINAIRE by Margaret Davies


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Will success spoil Guillaume Apollinaire? Will the crosspatch collection of books about him inundating us these last years result in a Hollywood film, a Broadway musical, a TV series? Stranger things have happened, but then Guillaume's life was strange indeed- Strange and Wonderful as the ads might say. He had three vibrant amours; he was imprisoned during the Mona Lisa brouhaha of 1911; he developed l'esprit nouveau which set the tone for the subsequent post-war avant garde; his mysterious paternity is still a scholarly debate; his pals included Picasso and Jacob; and two weeks after he thought of killing himself he shipped out to the Front, was wounded and died in Paris on Armistice Day while in the streets below crowds chanted an anti-Kaiser slogan, ""A bas Guillaume!"" This is surely the stuff from which dramas (or legends) are made, and Professor Davies has not missed an inch of it. Her book, both a biography and a fine critical analysis of the poetry and other writings, is notable for its romantic enthusiasm (remarkably infectious in this case) and the solid, painstaking research which supports it. She has drawn some sharp new insights from Apollinaire's wild autobiographical adventure, Le Poete assassine, given detailed expositions of Les Fiancailles and Le Brasier, covered his pioneering forays into erotica, Cubism, and calligrammatic innovations, and also managed to suggest the charm, gravity, and odd heroics of the man himself. It is certainly more varied and entertaining than Steegmuller's recent interpretation and no doubt should impress sensitive undergrads for a long time to come.

Publisher: St Martin's Press