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Alcools: Poems (Wesleyan Poetry) [Paperback]

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Item description for Alcools: Poems (Wesleyan Poetry) by Guillaume Apollinaire & Donald Revell...

Alcools, first published in 1913 and one of the few indispensable books of twentieth- century poetry, provides a key to the century's history and consciousness. Champion of "cubism", Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918) fashions in verse the sonic equivalent of what Picasso accomplishes in his cubist works: simultaneity. Apollinaire has been so influential that without him there would have been no New York School of poetry and no Beat Movement. This new translation reveals his complex, beautiful, and wholly contemporary poetry. Printed with the original French on facing pages, this is the only version of this seminal work of French Modernism currently available in the United States.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Wesleyan
Pages   185
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 6" Height: 9"
Weight:   0.65 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jul 31, 1995
Publisher   Wesleyan
ISBN  0819512281  
ISBN13  9780819512284  

Availability  4 units.
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More About Guillaume Apollinaire & Donald Revell

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Guillaume Apollinaire (1880 1918) was born Wilhelm Apollinaris de Kostrowitzky in Rome, the illegitimate son of an impoverished Polish woman and an Italian army officer. He spent his boyhood on the French Riviera with his mother and younger brother, Albert, attending schools in Monaco, Cannes, and Nice, until the family moved to Paris in 1899. Apollinaire did not pass the "baccalaureat "but began writing on his own, leaving Paris in 1901 to work as a private tutor for a family in the Rhineland for two years. Upon his return to Paris, he was employed as a bank clerk while writing plays and essays and becoming acquainted with Symbolist poets and playwrights, avant-garde musicians, choreographers, and visual artists, such as Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Henri Rousseau, and Marcel Duchamp. In 1910 Apollinaire published a collection of short stories, "L Heresiarque et cie," that was nominated for the Goncourt Prize, and in 1913 he published his first significant collection of poetry, "Alcools." At the onset of World War I, Apollinaire joined the French army, first serving as a member of the artillery division and then as part of the infantry fighting on the front lines where he suffered a head wound in March 1916. He returned to Paris and oversaw the production a year later of his play "Les Mamelles de Tiresias," a work in which the word "surrealiste" appears for the first time. A major influence on the artists and writers who would come to be known as surrealists, Apollinaire died of influenza two days before Armistice Day.
Ron Padgett is a poet and translator whose "Collected Poems" won the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America and the 2014 "Los Angeles Times Prize" for the best poetry book. Padgett has translated the poetry of Apollinaire, Pierre Reverdy, Valery Larbaud, and Blaise Cendrars.
Peter Read is a professor of modern French literature and visual arts at the University of Kent, Canterbury, United Kingdom. He has published books and essays on Apollinaire and his circle, on other French poets, and on artists including Pablo Picasso, Raoul Dufy, Auguste Rodin, and Alberto Giacometti."

Guillaume Apollinaire was born in 1880 and died in 1918.

Guillaume Apollinaire has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Wesleyan Poetry

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Authors, A-Z > ( A ) > Apollinaire, Guillaume
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > General
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > Single Authors > Continental European

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A unreliable translation of one of modern literature's wildest rides  Oct 2, 2006
The French poet Guillaume Apollinare published his first collection ALCOOLS in 1913. With this monumental volume, even the fresh Symbolism of Mallarme suddenly seemed stale, and the innovations of cubic painting found a place in verse. The "stream of consciousness" of the sequence "La Chanson du Mal Aime" ("The Song of the Poorly Loved") starts off with a vague complaint about betrayal, and ends up seguing totally naturally into a take on the Zaporogian Cossacks' profanity-filled reply to the Sultan, and then into fantasy swordcraft. In "Zone", Apollinaire is among the first to take stock of the massive social and technological changes at the beginning of the 20th century. Like in his poetry of World War I, Apollinaire shows the foundation of all that came to pass through that bitter hundred years. His ability to turn from the most universal themes to the most peculiar is a fascinating hint at Dadaism and Surrealism. And shortly before sending the poems to print, Apollinaire removed all punctuation, giving his poetry this crazy flow that must be read aloud to be believed.

But it's not all scary modernism, for Apollinaire writes some touching simpler verse, such as "Annie" with its cute punch line and the poignant "L'adieu" ("The Farewell"). "Lorelei" reinterprets the old German legend in a much more psychologically intense way.

The original French text of ALCOOLS is here (minus three early poems Revells didn't feel to mesh well with the general scheme), which makes it at least something worth looking at for those American readers who can read French but can't acquire a French edition of the work. However, the facing-page translation by James Revell, a professor of English at University of Utah, often distorts the work. Most often, it's by placing in the English texts word play nowhere in the original. In "La tzigane" ("The Gypsy") Apollinare writes "On sait tres bien que l'on se damne", but Revell expands this to the silly "A person knows damn well he's damned." Elsewhere, it is just transforming the original poem entirely. Take, for example, the one-liner "Chantre" (Singer). Apollinaire writes the elegant phrase "Et l'unique cordeau de trompettes marines", but Revell comes up with the psychadelic "And only one in the world chord ocean horns." I haven't seen such a wacky rendition of a straightforward poem since Brooks Haxton's New Age take on Heraclitus' fragments (published by Penguin)

Revell's introduction is less an explanation of the book's context in Apollinaire's life and work and more an apologia for his translation. It's fairly insubstantial, and any other introduction to ALCOOLS, even freely-available ones, would do just as well if not better.

If one wants to experience poetry truly, one must be prepared to read the text in the original languages. Translations can only serve as cribs on the way to such a pleasurable goal. It's a pity that Revell distorts Apollinaire's creation for his own wacky ends. ALCOOLS is a book that should be encounted.
Good, risky new translation.  Apr 15, 2005
Guillaume Apollinaire, Alcools (translated by Donald Revell) (Wesleyan, 1995)

What is there to review about Alcools itself? It's Guillaume Apollinaire. It was published ninety years ago. It's one of the documents Tristan Tzara was reading obsessively while forming the dada movement, and thus was also a heavy influence on surrealism, and between the two was an influence on most modern writing. It contains some of Apollinaire's best-known poems. If you haven't read it yet, what are you waiting for? It's a literary classic, and one that should be in every home.

What I'm reviewing here is Donald Revell's new translation of Alcools. I hadn't got the book out thinking that; I was planning to use this as a platform to mouth the same old words about the greatness of Apollinaire and how you should have all read him already, in high school if not before, and how horrible it is that our educational system doesn't teach the man. But then I read Revell's (thankfully brief; I hate fifty-page introductions to books of poetry in translation) intro to this, and I realized that at least writing, if not reading, this review would be more interesting than usual. For Revell talks about the poetic license he took with the original text in order to preserve the spirit of Guillaume Apollinaire, rather than be slavish to the original words.

For the most part, it works pretty well. Revell, after all, is a fantastic poet in his own right, and you can trust his judgment as to what sounds good and what doesn't. Those who know French (or even a smattering of French, or those capable of easily recognizing cognates) will be able to check the original text, on the facing page, and see differences pretty readily. One wonders whether the perceived strengths and weaknesses in this translation (as one must wonder with all translations) have more to do with the original translations of these poems a reader has read than with the original (because it's very rare to find a poem that translates literally and still sounds poetic in the new language). I cut my teeth on Apollinaire with the translations in The Poetry of Surrealism (mostly by Michael Hamburger, with a few contributions by other translators), and I've always thought of those as the definitive translations of the Apollinaire poems included in both volumes. "Zone," for example, sounds completely different in the two books; it keeps the same spirit, of course, but other things (the pace, specifically) come off completely differently.

In the end, it most likely comes down to the reader. For the newcomer to Apollinaire, you may get more enjoyment out of this book than the seasoned reader. Yet the seasoned reader will find a good deal of enjoyment here as well, and possibly much food for thought on the nature of translation, as well. *** ½

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