The enchanted forest of Broceliande with its magical personages and his wide readings in medieval literature were brought vividly to life. Here he wrote verse, prose in particular, UEnchanteur pourrissant] and made notes of strange, rare words which will be recalled in Alcools. His fascination with language was heightened by his contact with Walloon and occasional wallonismes occur later in his verse.
This northern contact was renewed in when Apollinaire set out for a year as tutor to a German family with houses in the Rhineland. Here he saw a world rich in myth and legend, travelled extensively and met fleetingly those characters who decorate the group of poems known as 'Rhenanes' in Alcools. It was a fertile period for him since the challenge of change was something to which he immediately responded. His verse took on its own distinctive note, the physical splendour of autumn, his 'saison mentale', awoke in him the visual sense which was his most sensitive and he fell passionately in love with Annie Playden, the English governess of the family.
The story of his relationship with Annie, the first of the powerful amatory experiences which contributed so much to the poems of Alcools and was bitterly elegised in 'La Chanson du mal-aime,' has its own ironies. Some inspired detective work by M.
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Adema and Robert Goffin, the Belgian poet, succeeded in tracing Annie to America where she had been sent by her father, a strict Anglican architect, in In the fifty years which had elapsed since her last meeting with 'Kostro', the name under which she had known Apollinaire, she had married, become widowed and kept a boarding-kennel establishment with her sister. The subsequent fame o f Guillaume Apollinaire had passed her by for she did not know the pseudonym, but her true Edwardian discretion did not allow her to divulge any intimate details of their relationship during the stay in Germany see F.
Steegmuller, 'Une visite chez Annie', G.
The oscillation between happiness and unhappiness which is apparent in his relationship with Annie is echoed in the poems of the Rhineland where Apollinaire found the secret of holding in a creative tension those contradictions and opposites which abound in his work: life and death, legend and reality, the supernatural and the ordinary, the solemn and the trivial, the real and the imaginary, hope and despair, all coexist in an ambiguous atmosphere of varied poetic forms and styles.
The ending of his love affair with Annie Playden and the irksome tasks of an employe de banque in Paris brought Apollinaire to a period of depression and near silence in which his powers seem to flag and his work to lack direction. He was jerked out of this apathy by a series of unconnected events. Apollinaire had met Picasso in although his friendship with the painters Andre Derain and Maurice de Vlaminck had begun earlier.
His relationship with the young painters, Fauves and Cubistes alike, had given him a great deal of pleasure and aesthetic excitement. His art criticism collected in the Chroniques d'art , Gallimard, reflects his lively defence of the new art forms; he was the first exegete of Cubism. In he met Marie Laurencin, herself a painter, fell in love with her and so found renewed hope and stimulus. This is the time of 'Le Brasier' and 'Les Fian9ailles', poems which mark an evolution in his poetic achievement as well as in his views on the role and powers of the poet.
Richard has well said of this change: Au lieu d'etre celui qui dit adieu aux choses, et qui celebre melancoliquement leur secession, il va devenir celui qui occupe activement, comme un 'brasier', ou un soleil tout neuf, le centre de 1'espace, et a partir duquel seul les choses prendront sens. Le centre du monde n'est plus un la-bas stellaire, recule en d'autres nebuleuses, c'est notre conscience vivante et.
Raymond] U Enchanteur pourrissant, his first published work, appeared in , but was hardly a success for no more than one quarter of the small edition was sold. L'Heresiarque et Cie was published in and, according to Apollinaire came close to being awarded the Prix Goncourt. Le Bestiaire ou le Cortege d'Orphee came out in the following year with illustrations by Dufy. His relationship with Marie Laurencin, tender and stormy in turns, came to an end in ; the resultant moral depression is reflected in Alcools, particularly in 'Zone'.
Another factor contributed to the blackness of this period. In Apollinaire was arrested on suspicion of stealing the Mona Lisa from the Louvre; the story of this half-tragic, half-farcical event is told in the notes to the poems 'A la Sante' see pp. There is no doubt that Apollinaire received a severe setback. As a stateless person, he might have been deported, losing at one stroke his career, his friends and France. This fear reinforced questions of identity, self-searching and insecurity. This was his mood when Alcools was published in The rest of the story does not concern us here.
It is enough to say that the mercurial nature of Apollinaire reasserted itself, his friendship with the painter Robert Delaunay led to a renewal of ideas, seen in Simultaneisme, in the typographical experiments in Calligrammes. The outbreak of war in provided him with a new challenge.
Since he was not a French citizen, conscription did not affect him but he nevertheless volunteered and was called to the colours in ; he became naturalised French. In , a Lieutenant in an Infantry Regiment, he was severely wounded in the head. This year also saw the publication of Le Poete assassine and, in , Calligrammes, poemes de la paix et de la guerre, These war years brought him a considerable amount of satisfaction for he seems to have found himself by the simple act of becoming a French soldier.
His voice is graver and more selfassured, regret for the past is replaced by a prophetic look to the future. Introduction Je legue a 1'avenir Phistoire de Guillaume Apollinaire Qui fut a la guerre et sut etre partout. He died of the grippe espagnole on 9 November Alcools, poemes with a portrait of Apollinaire by Picasso was published in by the Mercure de France. Remy de Gourmont, a power in the influential literary review published by the same house, had been very impressed by 'La Chanson du mal-aime' and had recommended Apollinaire's volume to Alfred Vallette, the editor.
Decaudin Doss. The critical reception accorded to the book was mixed. The poet had a good many friends amongst journalists, chroniqueurs and the younger literary critics who wrote understandingly. The most damaging account of Alcools was however written by Georges Duhamel in the Mercure de France itself 15 June It began: Rien ne fait plus penser a une boutique de brocanteur que ce recueil de vers public par M. Guillaume Apollinaire sous un titre a la fois simple et mysterieux: Alcools. Je dis: boutique de brocanteur parce qu'il est venu echouer dans ce taudis une foule d'objets heteroclites dont certains ont de la valeur, mais dont aucun n'est le produit de 1'industrie du marchand meme.
C'est bien la une des caracteristiques de la brocante: elle revend; elle ne fabrique pas. This accusation of a conspicuous lack of originality was calculated to hurt Apollinaire whose drive to le nouveau was already apparent. There follows an ironic tribute to the poet's erudition: 'M. Apollinaire ne manque pas d'erudition; on a constamment 1'impression qu'il dit tout ce qu'il sait' but Duhamel judges this to lead to failure, to the 'image manquee'.
Apollinaire fut illettre et qu'il ecrivit plus souvent selon son cceur' again shocked the poet whose belief in the truth of poetry. The review so infuriated him that his first instinct was to seek satisfaction by duel but the situation was smoothed over by the intervention of friends. The title Alcools was a late choice, being preferred to the original Eau-de-vie which was included in a portrait of Apollinaire executed by the Polish artist Marcoussis in mid-igia.
Both words occur at the end of 'Zone': Et tu bois cct alcool brulant comme ta vie Ta vie que tu bois comme cette eau-de-vie. Alcools, Club du meilleur livre, , pp. The harmonics of the word alcools with its hints at joy and subsequent sadness, pleasure and danger, of distillation in the magic process of fire and water, convey well the excitements and contradictions of the poems. The volume contains fifty poems of which forty-three had already appeared in different literary reviews, six 'La Blanche Neige', 'Un Soir', '', 'A la Sante', 'Automne malade' and 'Hotels' were printed in the volume for the first tirne and one 'Chantre' was added on the proofs.
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As indicated by the title, the date of composition of the poems lies between and The poems are not, however, printed in chronological order. A few of the poems are dated by Apollinaire but the problems of dating the remainder are very considerable. The pioneer work of LeRoy C. Decaudin's Le Dossier d' 'Alcools' are indispensable tools for any examination of this complex issue. Apollinaire wrote quickly, often leaving lines and poems unfinished.
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They were set aside and fragments incorporated into poems composed at a much later date; examples are quoted in notes to individual poems. Mme M. Durry has described the technique as that of a 'mosaiiste' or 'marqueteur' and Breunig has used the word 'collage'. Nor are existing manuscripts always authoritative evidence for Apollinaire sometimes wrote on headed notepaper acquired years earlier. Because the order of the poems is not chronological there has been much speculation on why any particular poem should occupy the place it does.
Since the publication of Les Fleurs du mal and Baudelaire's confession to Alfred de Vigny sent with a copy of the second edition 'Le seul eloge que je sollicite pour ce livre est qu'on reconnaisse qu'ii n'est pas un pur album et qu'il a un commencement et une fin' , it has become irresistibly tempting to try to discover in any collection of poems a secret order of presentation in which a poem gains added significance from its place, its meaning being influenced by what has gone before and by what is to follow.
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There is no such evidence to be found in the arrangement of Alcools nor did Apollinaire admit of any such underlying intention. The volume opens and closes with a long poem. In the first poem, the poet's geographical wanderings mirror the frantic movements of his mind in his search for explanation and justification, ending in the hopeless light of another despairing dawn; in 'Vendemiaire', it is the world and its cities which come to him, to pay homage to the poet, centre of the universe. Here the dawn has all the trappings of joyful promise. Scott Bates has argued that Apolliri-.
There is no grouping by subject; long poems are separated by short poems. The denial of any facile autobiographical chronology allows the poet to cover his tracks and to diminish the element of direct confession. The variety of styles from the earliest to the later poems confers on the book a greater impression of originality. Typography, too, has a role to play for Apollinaire had a keen eye for lay-out. It is clear that he is a 'natural' poet to whom the act of writing in verse is easier, he confessed, than writing in prose. Even in the trenches, the flow of verse went on uninterrupted, quickened indeed by the new excitements.
The Pleiade edition of his poetic works comes to over pages. Andre Salmon said of him: Tl etait toujours en train d'ecrire quelque chose tire de lui par 1'exterieur ou 1'interieur' cit. Durry, 'Alcools', i, p. It is the practice of poetry that interested Apollinaire for he is not one of the great poetcritics in the tradition of Baudelaire, Mallarme and Valery.
Indeed, Andre Breton described him, with justification, as a 'mediocre estheticien'. Apollinaire's life was too disjointed, too busy to foster mature reflection; much of his critical work was written for those weeklies and monthlies in which he had a regular column. Paul Adam is judged to be one of the 'grands ecrivains de son epoque'. This may be because Apollinaire is essentially a critic of encouragement for whom positive affirmation is more important than destruction. He shows a marked preference for the new and the modern, but as he gained experience, there are startling flashes of perception.
Above all, he is the master of the revealing anecdote.
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