The Writing of Guillaume Apollinaire/Le Style Apollinaire (1934)

Commentary

Gavronsky, Serge. “Guillaume Apollinaire Subsumed Under Louis Zukofsky’s Gaze: ‘…listening receptively….’” Introduction to The Writing of Guillaume Apollinaire/Le Style Apollinaire (2003): xiii-l.

 

This work was commissioned by LZ’s close friend René Taupin (1905-1981), apparently because the latter needed scholarly publications for his academic career. Originally from France, at the time Taupin was teaching at Columbia University, and he would remain primarily in the U.S. throughout the rest of his life, particularly at Hunter College, NYC. LZ would state that “This ‘collaboration’ was written entirely by L. Z. and the French quotations are also his arrangement. It was consequently translated by R. T. into French, and the French version was published by Les Presses Modernes, Paris, France, 1934” (Booth 187; also photo reproduction of this cover note at 176). So far it has not been possible to verify the precise nature of the “collaboration,” but it is reasonable to assume that Taupin was at least involved in conversations on the project and no doubt helped obtain the various contemporary French texts mentioned in the work. However, the aggressively non-academic presentation of the work suggests the actual composition was mostly if not entirely LZ’s. The work can be seen as an early experiment in presentation through extensive quotation that will be pursued by LZ in other critical books, such as Bottom: on Shakespeare.

LZ appears to have worked on this book during the latter part of 1931, after returning to NYC from his short academic year at the University of Wisconsin, and finished it on 16 April 1932. Two of the three parts of the work were published in The Westminster Magazine 22.4 (Winter 1933) and 23.1 (Spring 1934)—excluding “Part II—Le Poète Ressuscité,” which consists entirely of quotations from throughout Apollinaire’s works. René Taupin’s French translation of the complete work was published as Le Style Apollinaire (Paris: Les Presses Modernes, 1934), but apparently soon after most of the copies were destroyed in a warehouse fire. 

LZ’s notes, besides referencing the numerous quotations from Apollinaire, provide some intriguing indications of LZ’s additional reading. In some cases the references actually indicate undesignated quotations, which is the case, for example, with most of the Dante references in “& Cie” (using the Temple Classics edition of Dante’s Latin Works; the De vulgari eloquentia is translated by A.G. Ferrers Howell).

Bits of the Apollinaire project resurface in other LZ works. He made an arrangement of brief translated quotations from Apollinaire that appeared as the final selection of A Workers Anthology (1934-1935), and an expanded and reordered arrangement was published as “Sequence from ‘The Writing of Guillaume Apollinaire’” in the Columbia Review 15.4 (May 1934). A translation of Apollinaire’s “The Gathering” (La cueillette), which was not used in The Writing of Guillaume Apollinaire, appears as part of the Son’s dialogue in Arise, Arise (14, 18), which also includes fragments of other poems that did appear in Writing (Arise 23, 25, 26). 

Although The Writing of Guillaume Apollinaire in its English version would never be published complete in LZ’s lifetime, nor in part subsequent to what appeared in The Westminster Magazine in 1933-34, there is evidence that he continued to consider it a significant critical work. In the early 1970s, LZ put together a proposal for The Portable Zukofsky, a large selection of fiction, poetry and criticism, the latter to include the first and third parts of Apollinaire (HRC 15.3). 

A Note on the text: The Wesleyan University Press publication of The Writing of Guillaume Apollinaire (2006) made available for the first time LZ’s complete text, which prints LZ’s text on the left hand pages, faced by a hybrid text on the right consisting of Taupin’s translation of LZ’s English combined with English translations of the numerous quotations from Apollinaire by Sasha Watson. Unfortunately this text was very poorly proof-read and there are many obvious typos. Although there are apparent inconsistencies between different printed texts, there is no indication in this edition what source text was used. However, it has not yet been possible to check the Wesleyan  text against the Les Presses Modernes text nor, more importantly, the Westminster Magazine versions, so there seems little point for the time being in attempting to give a complete list of errata. Nevertheless, a couple of the more glaring problems are worth pointing out: there are at times serious scrambling of the footnotes in “Il y a” and “& Cie.” In “Il y a” the footnotes are misnumbered from numbers 32 – 56 (22/23-36/37) and in a couple instances appear to be misplaced or missing. Beginning with note 32 in the main text:
32   what this number in the text refers to is uncertain, but it is possible it refers to Vaché, who I will return to in a moment. Footnote 32 should be #33 referring to poem “L’Emigrant de Landor Road” found in Alcools
34   this quotation is from Jacques Vaché (the full bibliographical reference is at note #28), from a 1917 letter to André Breton. The footnote numbered 34 should be #36 and all subsequent footnote numbers are similarly displaced two integers through #46.
35   this number in the text refers to note #33, this is the Apollinaire’s famous text on Les Peintres Cubistes: Méditations Esthétiques (1913). 
48   this number in the text should appear on page 28/29, presumably noting “Virgin!” and referring to the footnote “Apollonius of Tyane.” Apollonius was a Christ-figure who was born of a virgin birth. In any case he appears in Apollinaire’s L’Enchanteur pourrissant along with the others in this catalogue of characters. From this point the footnotes are displace one integer through #56 (i.e. 47 should be 48 . . . ).
56   This number in the text should appear following the quotation about midway on page 36/37: “ressemble á tous les hommes, car tous sont à la fois pécheurs et saints, quand ils ne sont pas criminels et martyrs” [the opening quotation mark is missing], which is quoted from L’Hérésiarque et Cie.
57   With this number the numbering is back on track. 
In “& Cie” on page 172/173 most of the footnotes are mixed up:
15   refers to footnote #18.
16   refers to footnote #15.
17   refers to footnote #19.
18   refers to footnote #16.
19   refers to a missing note: “Picabia, L’Esprit Nouveau, Oct. 1924.”
The lines beginning “On veut des consonnes sans voyelles…” to “… consonne etc.” should be footnoted with #17 (from Calligrammes).