Letters to Madeleine
Edited by Laurence Campa
Letters to Madeleine collects for the first time in English the remarkable letters and poems sent by French poet Guillaume Apollinaire to his fiancée Madeleine Pagès during the First World War. Stationed in the trenches of Champagne, this man of letters who had been at the forefront of the surrealist movement was transformed overnight into an artilleryman.
The fascinating correspondence bears witness to the typical yet deeply idiosyncratic experience of Apollinaire at an especially crucial moment of his existence as man and artist. Apollinaire shares with Madeleine his thoughts on art and literature from Racine to Tolstoy, and at the same time he uniquely documents the daily life of a soldier at the front during the Great War. As well, the letters reveal intimate and little-known aspects of Apollinaire’s personality—from his childhood and tastes to his grandest aesthetic ideas.
Letters to Madeleine is a moving portrait of a poet facing one of humanity’s starkest realities, and it will be of interest to not only fans of Apollinaire but those interested in personal accounts of the First World War as well.
‘In 1912, the poet Guillaume Apollinaire published “Le Pont Mirabeau” in the journal Les Soirées de Paris [. . .] Even in Apollinaire’s lifetime, the melancholy piece—which uses the image of the ornate bridge spanning the flowing Seine to explore love and the passage of time—was one of his best known.’ —The Paris Review [Listen to Apollinaire recite ‘Le Pont Mirabeau’ here]
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