History of Literature





Guillaume Apollinaire


 


Guillaume Apollinaire
 


Muse Inspiring the Poet.
Portrait of Apollinaire and Marie Laurencin,
by Henri Rousseau, 1909

 

Guillaume Apollinaire

French poet
pseudonym of Guillelmus (or Wilhelm) Apollinaris de Kostrowitzki

born August 26, 1880, Rome?, Italy
died November 9, 1918, Paris, France

Main
poet who in his short life took part in all the avant-garde movements that flourished in French literary and artistic circles at the beginning of the 20th century and who helped to direct poetry into unexplored channels.

The son of a Polish émigrée and an Italian officer, he kept his origins secret. Left more or less to himself, he went at the age of 20 to Paris, where he led a bohemian life. Several months spent in Germany in 1901 had a profound effect on him and helped to awaken him to his poetic vocation. He fell under the spell of the Rhineland and later recaptured the beauty of its forests and its legends in his poetry. He fell in love with a young Englishwoman, whom he pursued, unsuccessfully, as far as London; his romantic disappointment inspired him to write his famous Chanson du mal-aimé (“Song of the Poorly Loved”).

After his return to Paris, Apollinaire became well known as a writer and a fixture of the cafés patronized by literary men. He also made friends with some young painters who were to become famous—Maurice de Vlaminck, André Derain, Raoul Dufy, and Pablo Picasso. He introduced his contemporaries to Henri Rousseau’s paintings and to African sculpture; and with Picasso, he applied himself to the task of defining the principles of a Cubist aesthetic in literature as well as painting. His Peintures cubistes appeared in 1913 (Cubist Painters, 1944).
 

His first volume, L’Enchanteur pourrissant (1909; “The Rotting Magician”), is a strange dialogue in poetic prose between the magician Merlin and the nymph Viviane. In the following year a collection of vivid stories, some whimsical and some wildly fantastic, appeared under the title L’Hérésiarque et Cie (1910; “The Heresiarch and Co.”). Then came Le Bestiaire (1911), in mannered quatrains. But his poetic masterpiece was Alcools (1913; Eng. trans., 1964). In these poems he relived all his experiences and expressed them sometimes in alexandrines and regular stanzas, sometimes in short unrhymed lines, and always without punctuation.

In 1914 Apollinaire enlisted, became a second lieutenant in the infantry, and received a head wound in 1916. Discharged, he returned to Paris and published a symbolic story, Le Poète assassiné (1916; The Poet Assassinated, 1923), and more significantly, a new collection of poems, Calligrammes (1918), dominated by images of war and his obsession with a new love affair. Weakened by war wounds, he died of Spanish influenza.

His play Les Mamelles de Tirésias was staged the year before he died (1917). He called it surrealist, believed to be the first use of the term. Francis Poulenc turned the play into a light opera (first produced in 1947).

In his poetry Apollinaire made daring, even outrageous, technical experiments. His calligrammes, thanks to an ingenious typographical arrangement, are images as well as poems. More generally, Apollinaire set out to create an effect of surprise or even astonishment by means of unusual verbal associations, and, because of this, he can be considered a forebear of Surrealism.



Calligramme de Guillaume Apollinaire

 

 

 


Guillaume Apollinaire
 

THE CONTRIBUTION OF GUILLAUME APOLLINAIRE

The poet Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918) was a frequent contributor to the influential La rente blanche from 1902 onwards. lie had originally confined his critical interest in painting to the works of Seurat, Cezanne, and the Fauves, but later became closely involved with the activities of avant-garde artists, acting as their interpreter and theoretician, lie wrote a treatise entitled The Cubist Painters— Aesthetic Meditations (published in 1913), as well as reviews and prefaces for the one-man shows of Picasso and Braque and for exhibitions by the so-called Orphists. An enthusiastic apologist for any new artistic development, he wrote the manifesto "L'Antitradition futuriste" for Marinetti in 1913. In 1917, he coined the term "surrealism" when describing his play Les Mamelles de Tiresias, and also contributed to 391, Picabia's Dadaist review. When Apollinaire died, Picasso designed a wire sculpture based on one of Apollinaire's poems, "signifying nothing, like poetry and fame".

 



 


Marc Chagall
Homage to Apollinaire
1911-13

 


Guillaume Apollinaire



Guillaume Apollinaire


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Guillaume Apollinaire (August 26, 1880 – November 9, 1918) was a French poet, writer, and art critic born in Italy to a Polish mother.
Among the foremost poets of the early 20th century, he is credited with coining the word surrealism and writing one of the earliest works described as surrealist, the play Les Mamelles de Tirésias (1917, later used as the basis for an opera in 1947). Two years after being wounded in World War I, he died at 38 of the Spanish flu during the pandemic.
Born Wilhelm Albert Vladimir Apollinaris Kostrowitzky and raised speaking French, among other languages, he emigrated to France and adopted the name Guillaume Apollinaire. His mother, born Angelica Kostrowicka, was a Polish noblewoman born near Navahrudak (now in Belarus). His father is unknown but may have been Francesco Flugi d'Aspermont, a Swiss Italian aristocrat who disappeared early from Apollinaire's life. He was partly educated in Monaco. Apollinaire was one of the most popular members of the artistic community of Montparnasse in Paris. His friends and collaborators during that period included Pablo Picasso, Gertrude Stein, Max Jacob, André Salmon, Marie Laurencin, André Breton, André Derain, Faik Konica, Blaise Cendrars, Pierre Reverdy, Jean Cocteau, Erik Satie, Ossip Zadkine, Marc Chagall and Marcel Duchamp. In 1911, he joined the Puteaux Group, a branch of the cubist movement. On September 7, 1911, police arrested and jailed him on suspicion of stealing the Mona Lisa, but released him a week later. Apollonaire then implicated his friend Pablo Picasso, who was also brought in for questioning in the art theft, but he was also exonerated. He fought in World War I and, in 1916, received a serious shrapnel wound to the temple. He wrote Les Mamelles de Tirésias while recovering from this wound. During this period he coined the word surrealism in the program notes for Jean Cocteau and Erik Satie's ballet Parade, first performed on 18 May 1917. He also published an artistic manifesto, L'Esprit nouveau et les poètes. Apollinaire's status as a literary critic is most famous and influential in his recognition of the Marquis de Sade, whose works were for a long time obscure, yet arising in popularity as an influence upon the Dada and Surrealist art movements going on in Montparnasse at the beginning of the twentieth century as, "The freest spirit that ever existed."

The war-weakened Apollinaire died of influenza during the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918. He was interred in the Le Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris.

Apollinaire's first collection of poetry was L'enchanteur pourrissant (1909), but Alcools (1913) established his reputation. The poems, influenced in part by the Symbolists, juxtapose the old and the new, combining traditional poetic forms with modern imagery. In 1913, Apollinaire published the essay Les Peintres cubistes on the cubist painters, a movement which he helped to define. He also coined the term orphism to describe a tendency towards absolute abstraction in the paintings of Robert Delaunay and others. In 1907, Apollinaire wrote the well-known erotic novel, The Eleven Thousand Rods (Les Onze Mille Verges). Officially banned in France until 1970, various printings of it circulated widely for many years. Apollinaire never publicly acknowledged authorship of the novel. Another erotic novel attributed to him was The Exploits of a Young Don Juan (Les exploits d'un jeune Don Juan), in which the 15-year-old hero fathers three children with various members of his entourage, including his aunt. The book was made into a movie in 1987. Shortly after his death, Calligrammes, a collection of his concrete poetry (poetry in which typography and layout adds to the overall effect), was published. In his youth Apollinaire lived for a short while in Belgium, but mastered the Walloon language sufficiently to write poetry through that medium, some of which has survived.

 

 
     
         
 

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