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


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 many cases the references actually indicate undesignated quotations, which is the case, for example, with most of the Dante references (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’” published 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).