Poeticized Language

The Foundations of Contemporary French Poetry

By (author) Steven Winspur, Jean-Jacques Thomas

Paperback - £33.95

Publication date:

15 July 1999

Length of book:

288 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271018133

Contemporary French poetry is unique in that it places a great emphasis on language itself. In this book, Jean-Jacques Thomas and Steven Winspur focus on the linguistic aspects of recent poems written in French. From Apollinaire and Eluard to the Oulipians, from the spacialists to Yves Bonnefoy and Andrée Chedid, from Max Jacob and Saint-John Perse to Edouard Glissant and Denis Roche, this book analyzes the innovations crafted by more than fifty writers. With its eleven chapters and extensive bibliography, this is the most comprehensive English-language introduction to French poetry of the twentieth century.

“Their book represents an extraordinary case in which the combination of old and new materials far exceeds the mere sum of its constitutive parts. Indeed, with the addition of several new essays and significant re-workings of earlier publications, the present work goes beyond what either author has already contributed to the particular subject at hand. This is saying a lot, given their vital individual contributions to our understanding of contemporary French poetry.

I think we should assume at that point that Professors Thomas and Winspur modestly count themselves among those fortunate speakers who have done just that by composing this major work of criticism. But inasmuch as their co-authored project is already a collective one, so to speak, we can also infer something else from this rhetorical question, which they answer in the affirmative. Once the rest of us better understand and appreciate the linguistic and semiotic basics of poeticized discourse, we, too, should expect to rise with them above the banality of mere prosaic communication.”

—Stamos Metzidakis, Substance #101