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This chapter deals with the history of the French poetry of the First Wold War. Although, like in other belligerent countries, the production of war poetry was massive between 1914 and 1918, it remains hitherto neglected by literature scholars and historians. The genre suffered from its bad reputation. Apart from a few avant-gardists like Guillaume Apollinaire, the scholarly consensus outlined the French war poetry as a chauvinistic old-fashioned flood of words with no literary or even documentary relevance in contrast with the prose written by soldier-writers. This chapter does not try to rehabilitate the French war poetry but to sketch a typology of a significative cultural phenomenon. It shows the variety of the genre between patriotism, eulogy, irony and humour, testimony, protest, and formal research.
In Germany the years of the First World War saw an overwhelming outpouring of verse, fired for the most part by intense patriotic enthusiasm around 1914. The lyric form provided both an immediate outlet for ordinary Germans to record their experiences and feelings, but also ready-made traditional models to shape those experiences. Alongside chauvinistic hymns by poets who remain, to all intents and purposes, ‘lost voices’, were soldier-poets, writing from the front – some of them prolific and enormously popular at the time, yet now almost completely forgotten, others still read today. But there were also worker poets, other critical voices, expressly anti-war poets and women poets who focused often on the victims left behind. Later too came the satirical or epic voices. German poetry of the period is inevitably mixed up also with Expressionism, which made for a more radical formal experimentation than in many other national literatures at the time.
This chapter provides an introduction to poet and composer Ivor Gurney’s responses to war, predominantly in poetry, but also in his music. It explores the strategies used by Gurney in the face of war; his sense of fate; his use of, and response to, place; his representation of the ordinary soldier; and his responses to the conflict through the lens of writings by Walt Whitman and Leo Tolstoi.
This chapter examines the market for poetry during the First World War, discussing the various outlets for verse and the factors that drove its publication and consumption. While previous studies of wartime publishing tend to focus on specific national contexts, this chapter surveys the international dimensions of the poetic marketplace, with a particular focus on the publishing of poetry in Britain, France, Germany and the USA. Drawing on a range of primary sources – including contemporary periodicals and publishing records – it reveals why poems were published in a range of books, magazines, and newspapers. In doing so, it demonstrates that the profusion of wartime poetry was not only a literary phenomenon, but also one that was shaped by commercial and political forces.
The canon of British First World War poetry seems well established and beyond dispute with a set of key ‘representative’ poets referenced continuously. Yet these poets have been selected and promoted over the decades for various reasons. Moreover, how representative were they of the British experience and reaction to the events 1914–1918? Using a quantitative study of the poets and poems appearing in anthologies during and after the war, this essay reconsiders the true canon of the British poetical response to the war charting the rise (and fall) of certain poets and why this might be so. It also considers the hidden canon of poetry that focuses on other theatres of war, at sea and in the air.
This chapter focuses on Roberto Bolaño poetical imagination; not only his poetry, but the way he uses poetry and the poet, as a literary figure, to stage an ironic and parodic representation of literature in the context of ongoing globalization. My main contention is that the exilic condition of Bolaño’s life and works defines his relationship to Latin American literature at large; thus, far from repeating conventional investments in literature’s potential to express Latin American singularity and to, somehow, supplement the historical process as a process leading to final liberation, what predominates in his works, and particularly in his decisive novel The Savage Detectives, is a skeptical understanding of the final disarticulation between literature and history. His characters, in other words, far from the mythical investment of Latin American romantic and revolutionary-like characters of the past, are defined by a nomadic and uncertain way of living detached from the age of commitment and political programs.
From his Rimbaldian early poetry to his tri-continental and globe-spanning novels, The Savage Detectives and 2666, Bolaño maintains a critically “exilic” distance from both literary and political forms of nationalism. Writing, in his own words, from a ‘wild’ space ‘equally distant from all the countries in the world’, Bolaño inscribes poetry in particular under the weight of a double destitution: as a synecdoche for poverty, exile, errancy and disappearance, on the one hand, and for a will to become ungovernable on the other. Yet, in mapping out the cumulative wanderings of these errant poet-underdogs, Bolaño’s oeuvre does not stop at exposing the ‘nation’ to its anomic ‘unhomeliness’ in times of globalization. Indeed, in radicalizing both Baudelaire’s spirit of indifference to social forms and Melville’s dismantling of the narrative form, Bolaño exposes both world and work to radical contingency, making the errant poetic-underdog the figure of radical ungovernability. Tracing these constellations through brief discussions of ‘The Romantic Dogs’, The Savage Detectives, Amulet, a selection of short stories from Putas asesinas, 2666, and Antwerp, the chapter draws its theoretical inspiration from Giorgio Agamben’s essay ‘What is a Destituent Power’.
As C. H. Wang observed in 1975, early Chinese representations of war generally perform an “ellipsis of battle” – readily narrating the causes of a war and its ultimate results, but avoiding detailed accounts of the fighting. The reason for this omission lies in the Mencian doctrine that the true ruler of the world must be “one who does not love killing.” Whether or not actual rulers loved killing, they had to be represented as if they went to war only against their will. Twentieth-century conditions changed the meaning of war in China as elsewhere. Warfare was now done by armies massively mobilized among the population; noncombatants found themselves taking an active part or being massacred; phases of civil war pitted Chinese against Chinese. Poets faced a dilemma: to prioritize the obligations of Chinese citizens in a life-or-death struggle for the survival of the nation, or persist in an individualist stance that the struggle put at risk? Examples of modern poets’ thinking through real and imagined actions of warfare show how twentieth-century Chinese literature demolished longstanding taboos and claimed new thematic territories.
Chapter 4 examines the development of a documentary poetics in wartime Venice through three literary genres: prose fiction, poetry, and epideictic oratory. The war inspired a vast outpouring of patriotic and Islamophobic literature that reproduced the fact-oriented discourse of military expansion within a public sphere shaped less by reason than by imagination, emotion, and colonial desire. Viewing the literary field as part of a broader process of opinion formation, the chapter traces the links between political power and different sites of literary activity – the academies, the University of Padua, religious institutions, and the book market. It also shows how poets and writers appropriated military and colonial forms of documentation to mobilise support for the war and popularise images of a mighty imperial republic, destined by God to rule the Orient.
Ibrahim and Tabbert continue on the topic of victims with an exploration of a selected passage by Iraqi Kurdish poet Sherko Bekas’ The Small Mirrors. The authors employ the framework of Critical Stylistics (Jeffries 2010) that is particularly suited to detect ideological meaning in texts.
Mapping Roberto Bolaño’s worlds, “literary” and “non-literary” alike, invites the work of many hands. In that collaborative spirit, conceived and organized in four parts – “Geographical, Social, and Historical Contexts,” “Shaping Events and Literary History,” “Genres, Discourses, Media,” and “Aesthetics, Culture, and Politics” – the twenty-nine essays that follow bring together the work of a distinguished group of scholars representing a range of disciplines. The volume itself is thus a nexus of many overlapping worlds, of locations and perspectives aligned and divergent, a site to encourage conversations about Bolaño’s work for generations to come, to 2666 and beyond.
This essay discusses Roberto Bolaño as a poet and the place and meaning of his poetry in the totality of his work. It characterizes the author’s writing and figure as writer since its beginning in Mexico City in the mid-seventies, and the fate of his writing after his death. It critically evaluates how critics have considered his poetry as well as key studies on his poetry. It reflects on his role in the formation of Infrarealism and the traces and echoes of Infrarealism in his oeuvre, including the connection of his earlier poetics with the major narrative works and later poetry. In reflecting on Bolaño’s influences, it considers the figure and poetic work of Mario Santiago Papasquiaro, whom Bolaño references constantly in his novels and poetry as a major influence in his life and writing. This article argues that Santiago epitomizes the poet’s rebellion and personal ethics and analyzes his influence on Bolaño’s overall poetics.
Thus speaks Prometheus, as he was most likely staged by Aeschylus in mid-fifth century BC Athens. Portrayed in chains in the outer reaches of the inhabited world, in the far and desert North, the hero addresses the chorus of Oceanids, singing from the orchestra to the public gathered in the theater dedicated to Dionysos Eleuthereus at the foot of the Acropolis. In this famous monologue, Prometheus enumerates and boasts about the different technical arts he has invented for the mortals. Among these tékhnai (τέχναι) he mentions various divinatory practices (mantikḗ [μαντική], line 484): namely (1) the interpretation of dreams, of omens, or of connections and coincidences (sumbóloi [συμβόλοι], line 487) as may happen along the way; (2) the observation of different species of rapacious birds in flight; (3) the examination of the shape and glint of a sacrificed animal’s viscera and liver; and finally (4) the reading of smoke and flames emanating from the sacrificial portion offered to the gods. All these divinatory practices belong to a long list of gifts bestowed by Prometheus: from the invention of numbers and of the alphabet (μνήμην ἁπάντων, μουσομήτορ’ ἐργάνην ‘the tool that enables all things to be remembered and is mother of the Muses’, line 461),3 to the beneficial remedies of medicine, mentioning also the yoke and harness that enable the use of animals, especially for plowing, the reading of the rising and setting of the stars for the sake of agricultural labor, the sailing for navigation, and the working of metals ‘hidden beneath the earth’ (lines 500–501), namely copper, iron, silver, and gold.
After many years of living the Bohemian life of a poet in Mexico, Roberto Bolaño (1953–2003) moved to Spain and decided to make a living out of literature. Sophie Podolski´s motto, “Writing is a living thing,” was Bolaño´s unique way of approaching literature while practicing literary criticism, rewriting the literary history of Spanish Letters and reconfiguring the Western literary canon in a global world. Soon after the end of the millennium, he became a global literary superstar and the most recognized Latin American contemporary writer. In this chapter, Bolaño´s journey – from an unknown brave poet to a celebrated barbarian novelist – is mapped out through three novellas: Amulet (1999), Distant Star (1996) and Monsieur Pain (1999 [1981–82]). The protagonists of these texts, poets and poetry, show the underlying intense eroticism of power through violence, malice, horror, agony, but also, love, joy, generosity, and tenderness. Making zig-zags, shifts and displacements, the analysis weaves his migrant memories through several geocultural leaps – from Mexico City to Santiago de Chile, and then to Paris – while accentuating the most hideous horrors of a more-than-symbolic modern twentieth century to critique the unfolding of Western civilization through pivotal temporal clusters – the 1960s, 1970s, 1930s–40s.
This article attempts a reassessment of the political aspirations within Agha Shahid Ali’s poetics through a close reading of The Country without a Post Office. Although Shahid’s formal innovations have often been prioritized over his political commitments within scholarly evaluations of his work, I contend that in this collection, Agha Shahid Ali practices a “poetics of rupture”: holding themes of coherence and disruption, continuity and breakage, the global and the local in sustained tension with each other throughout the volume. Forged through a political commitment to represent Kashmir in crisis, his poetics of rupture is simultaneously formally founded on breakage and discontinuity, and itself ruptures, as I eventually propose, the very binaries (poetics versus polemics, personal versus political, local versus global) that shadow political poetry. I demonstrate the specifics of Shahid’s poetics of rupture through an analysis of his work with literary allusions and poetic forms. Eventually, this article contends that recognizing the political import of his poetics of rupture has consequences for our recognition of the crisis in Kashmir itself and the ethical and formal possibilities surrounding the representation of this crisis.
Evidence, anecdotal and scientific, suggests that people treat (or are affected by) products of prestigious sources differently than those of less prestigious, or of anonymous, sources. The “products” which are the focus of the present study are poems, and the “sources” are the poets. We explore the manner in which the poet’s name affects the experience of reading a poem. Study 1 establishes the effect we wish to address: a poet’s reputation enhances the evaluation of a poem. Study 2 asks whether it is only the reported evaluation of the poem that is enhanced by the poet’s name (as was the case for The Emperor’s New Clothes) or the enhancement is genuine and unaware. Finding for the latter, Study 3 explores whether the poet’s name changes the reader’s experience of it, so that in a sense one is reading a “different” poem. We conclude that it is not so much that the attributed poem really differs from the unattributed poem, as that it is just ineffably better. The name of a highly regarded poet seems to prime quality, and the poem becomes somehow better. This is a more subtle bias than the deliberate one rejected in Study 2, but it is a bias nonetheless. Ethical implications of this kind of effect are discussed.
The Ottoman conquest of Constantinople not only destroyed the Byzantine Empire as a political entity but caused the collapse of patronage networks vital to all aspects of Byzantine cultural life, including literary production. After 1453 authors had to seek sources of support under new lords and divergent cultural imperatives: Ottoman Constantinople, Crete, and humanist Italy became major centres of Greek poetic production and intellectual life. Through the analysis of poems by George Amiroutzes, Michael Apostoles, Bessarion, Andronikos Kallistos, and others, this article examines how these authors adapted their compositions to new communities, substantially transforming their (literary) identity.
The private letters exchanged between Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett provide a dramatic contrast to the open letters discussed in Part I, the tone of which tends to reflect the robust nature of the political debates associated with three public scandals. The confidential letters exchanged between two highly gifted and sensitive poets explore themes, such as liminality, and contain symbols, such as those of sight and blindness, of a kind that also features in their poetry. These letters are intimate, focused and exclusive, gradually relaxing in style as mutual trust grows between the lovers and a long series of nuanced exchanges establishes a private set of shared associations and references. All this is made possible through the security of the uniform penny post that was so fiercely defended during the Mazzini scandal. References to the mechanics of letter writing, descriptions of the rooms in which the writers sit and references to delays in the delivery of letters ground the correspondence in the material culture of the day, enhancing a sense of immediacy and sometimes of synchrony.
This chapter begins by exploring the problems of defining ‘literature’ and establishes the capacious and intrinsically interdisciplinary nature of its study. The body of the essay argues for the long-standing proximity of history and literature and the difficulties, and even undesirability, of disaggregating their underpinning skills and techniques. It focuses primarily on examples from the late sixteenth century: a period when ‘literature’ meant not ‘fiction’ or ‘creative writing’ but a more general ‘familiarity with letters or books’ and the ‘knowledge acquired from reading or studying them’ (OED), and a time when notions of both poetry and history were fluid. If the former skirts close to rhetoric (as in Philip Sidney’s Defence of Poesy (c.1582)), the latter frequently connotes ‘story’, rather sequence of ‘factual’ events, as in Thomas Lodge’s often fantastical ‘history’ of ‘Robert, second duke of Normandy’ (1591). Even when endeavouring to adhere to the historical record, early modern, humanistically-trained historians – following their classical forebears – adopt fictive techniques, especially prosopopoeia: a ‘figure […] that to stirre and moove affection, attributeth speech to dead men, or to wals & such like’. School-room exercises drilled sixteenth-century pupils in this practice of personation, teaching them to ventriloquise the dead. As the essay goes on to demonstrate, prosopopoeia is particular useful when giving voice to those ‘overskipped’ by history, as seen from its centrality to The Mirror for Magistrates (William Baldwin et al.; editions from 1559) – a work which reflects self-consciously on the partiality of the historical record – and its use (alongside other fictive devices) by twenty-first-century historians and biographers seeking to restore voices lost or marginalised for reasons of race, class, or gender. The final section of the essay looks at how texts are shaped by their historical context (and vice versa) and the challenges of reading texts historically.
There is increasing recognition of the importance of the humanities and arts in medical and psychiatric training. We explore the poetry of Charles Baudelaire (1821–1867) and its evocations of depression through themes of mood, time and self-consciousness and discuss their relation to images of ‘spleen’, the ‘snuffling clock’ and the ‘sinister mirror’. Following the literary critical commentaries of Walter Benjamin (1892–1940) and Jean Starobinski (1920–2019) we identify some of their roots in the poet's experience of the rapid and alienating urbanisation of 19th-century Paris. Appreciation of the rich vocabulary of poetry and the images it generates adds depth to clinical practice by painting vivid pictures of subjective experience, including subjective experience of the ‘social’ as part of the biopsychosocial constellation.