This dissertation concerns "Ondes" ("Waves") (1912-1914), the first section of Guillaume Apollinaire’s second collection of poems, Calligrammes (1918). "Ondes" is an important part in the poet’s production, because it was written around 1913. For Apollinaire this year is marked by an extreme creativity and a desire to find a new poetical issue.
This thesis argues that in "Ondes", one can observe a competition with the scientist, who, in comparison to the poet, seems to be the most able to create wonders, not poetical ones, but the "marvels of modern technology". Besides, as opposed to the poet, the scientist is socially well considered, even admired, and his inventions concern reality. When Apollinaire compares himself to the scientist, he is questioning his role as a poet in society and in poetry.
The first chapter focuses on this problematic and it also considers the strategies that the he launches upon to reinforce his status as a poet. In order to have an impact on real life and to further develop the poetical language, Apollinaire tries to invent as the scientist does. He proceeds in integrating some aspects of science in his artistic activity, such as the scientist’s pragmatic language, his discoveries and his technological creations. For instance, the poet finds strategies, such as the "simultaneity", to express a new concept of time and space and of speed.
This poetical renewal is also carried out by different ways to relate text and image. The importance of the image is revealed by the figurative texts in Calligrammes. But the contours of some of the designated objects in these poems are also determining for the purely textual ones. This relation between text and image hasn’t been observed in previous works on Apollinaire.
The second chapter examines this aspect and starts out with a discussion of the relation to cubist painting, which aims at distinguishing between literary and pictorial practices. Three objects governing "Ondes" are discussed : La "fenêtre" (the "window"), la "tour" (the "tower") et le "soleil" (the "sun"), presented 1) as drawings, 2) as words and 3) as poetical models that determine the purely textual poem’s final form. These concrete objects contain different dynamics that the poet explores in using them to elaborate the structures of his poems. Consequently the progressive movement of the "sun’s" light waves could be one formal feature, the vertical line of the "tower" another one and, finally, the two sides of the "window", inside and outside, could establish a third dynamic form.
In the last two chapters a close reading of two texts from "Ondes" is undertaken: "Les Fenêtres" ("The Windows") and "Les Collines" ("The Hills"). The first poem is the one that Apollinaire considered as the most beautiful among the texts in "Ondes" and the second one is regarded as a poetical manifest. The texts are very different from each other and here they are looked upon in a structural perspective, with a method based on the theories of Jurij Lotman and Michel Riffaterre. This approach allows for a confirmation on a micro-level of the thesis developed in the first chapters. According to this, both poems reveal a discourse reminding of natural science and of the scientist. Both poems also show dynamics reminding of the three dominating images in "Ondes": They progress as the spiral in the centre of Apollinaire’s "sun", recycling elements already employed. They also expose an undulation between opposite points that bring back to the "sun’s" light waves. Finally "Les Fenêtres" imitates an alternation between the inside and the outside of the "window" and "Les Collines" indicates a vertical upward movement, illustrated by the "tower". These results are reached in accentuating the theme of the combat in "Les Collines" and the point of intersection in "Les Fenêtres".
Uppsala: Litteraturvetenskapliga institutionen , 2002. , 403 p.
Literature, Guillaume Apollinaire, modern poetry, "Ondes", Calligrammes, science, semiotic, structuralism, cubism, simultaneity, Delaunay