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This review is taken from PN Review 161, Volume 31 Number 3, January - February 2005.

QUINTESSENTIAL PARISIAN The Self-Dismembered Man: Selected Later Poems of Guillaume Apollinaire, translated by Donald Revell (Wesleyan University Press) $15.95

All of Europe went into the making of the man who called himself Guillaume Apollinaire. The boy who was christened Wilhelm Apollinaris de Kostrowitsky in Rome had a Finnishborn mother of Polish origin and Russian family, and a father who was probably an Italian-Swiss high official of the Vatican. Raised in Monaco and southern France, Apollinaire became the quintessential Parisian writer of the years leading up to the First World War, living his times more fully than anyone. He invented little (even his famous concrete poems were anticipated by the Mallarmé of 'Un Coup de Dés') but he absorbed all the creative forces in the great pre-war Parisian vortex. The heir of the Symbolists, the godfather of Dada and Surrealism, the chief propagandist of Cubism in art and literature, he would inspire adventurous poets for generations, from Max Jacob to Frank O'Hara to Bob Perelman. Perhaps no poet has ever accomplished more with only two full-dress books of poetry to his credit.

Donald Revell, whose admirable translation of Apollinaire's first book, Alcools, was published by Wesleyan in 1995, has given us a second book of translations, this time drawn from Apollinaire's other collection, Calligrammes. Alcools is an odd book, including poems like 'Zone', which could pass as a New York School walkie-talkie poem written by a vacationing American poet in Paris, as well as poems like 'The Gypsy', which could almost have been written by a poet of the French Decadence like Paul Verlaine. Revell's translation ...


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