The esprit nouveau - or esprit nouveau et les poètes - is a work by Guillaume Apollinaire , which he made public on November 26, 1917 in the Paris theater Vieux-Colombier and which represents his artistic manifesto . It is received very controversially, both by its opponents and by its friends and close confidants.
The esprit Nouveau et les poètes manifesto
Basically, it must be said that Apollinaire did not see the esprit nouveau et les poètes described as a new trend that he had invented. Rather, he saw it as his task to gather and bundle numerous new tendencies and views prevailing in France under “one roof”. Thus the esprit nouveau et les poètes has always existed, but only now is it becoming aware of itself. Furthermore, it follows a natural order, which is expressed in its simplicity and simplicity. The esprit nouveau et les poètes is said to be less opulent or lavish, like Wagnerism , for example . Apollinaire also saw enormous potential in esprit nouveau in his program; In his opinion, esprit nouveau had the ability to become an “esprit universel” ( Esprit Nouveau et les Poètes , 388), that is to say, a movement encompassing more areas. Another important feature of the manifesto was the connection Apollinaire made with scholars. In this way he would like to bring new knowledge about the universe to light that is absolutely equivalent to that of the natural sciences.
The role of the poet
Central to Apollinaire's declaration of principles was the role that the poet played in esprit nouveau et les poètes . Truth should serve as the fundamental basis for the new movement. So the poet should always be on the lookout for it and strive for it; the poet should be recognized as a personified representative of the truth. In the end, he even describes the poet as "seul dispensateur du beau et du vrai" ( Esprit Nouveau et les Poètes , 393). But he added other properties to his concept of poetry. According to Apollinaire, la poésie and la création are closely linked and the poet is someone who provides the basis for the outstanding inventions of mankind, which then only have to be put into practice by the inventors. He took this thesis to extremes by even naming Isaac Newton as a poet. In addition, Apollinaire gave the poets of esprit nouveau a prophetic character; the things that are described must also be put into practice. Furthermore, it must always be a declared goal of every poet to combine aspects that have not yet been put together and to do this in a new and natural way. Specifically, this meant that the ubiquitous, technical progress was definitely compatible with the esprit nouveau et les poètes for Apollinaire and was seen as an opportunity. Apollinaire also described the motif of surprise , that is, the surprise that often goes hand in hand with truths. Because it is precisely the said truths that are often viewed by society as inadmissible. In order to arouse surprise, it is sufficient simply to expound the truths openly - especially since many of them have not yet been further explored - or to penetrate the énormes espaces imaginatifs (Esprit Nouveau et les Poètes, 393).
The search for the truth
The next point is the aspect of Truth in Apollinaire's program, already mentioned. The poet should not only always be on the lookout for it, he should also endeavor to depict the world truthfully. He also introduces the concept of the vérité supposée , which means that for him there was a vérité littéraire , a literary truth.
«On peut également exprimer une vérité supposée qui cause la surprise, parce qu'on n'avait point encore osé la présenter. Mais une vérité supposée n'a point contre elle le bon sens, sans quoi elle ne serait plus la vérité, même supposée. C'est ainsi que j'imagine que, les femmes ne faisant point d'enfants, les hommes pourraient en faire et que je le montre, j'exprime une vérité littéraire qui ne pourra être qualifiée de fable que hors de la littérature, et ever détermine la surprise. Mais ma vérité supposée n'est pas plus extraordinaire, ni plus invraisemblable que celles des Grecs, qui montraient Minerve sortant armée de la tête de Jupiter. »
So it is the myths that are waiting to be realized and it is the poet's task to invent them. Apollinaire illustrates this idea with the story of Icarus ; because the dream of flying is no longer a fable these days. He thus concludes that it is the poet's duty to conceive new myths that can then become verité réelle through the inventors . This train of thought corresponds closely to the prophétie already described , which gives the poet the opportunity to have a direct influence on reality with his works.
With regard to the literature in general, he clearly postulates progressivity . The "fixed forms" are part of the past and no longer sufficient for today's needs. Nowadays vers libre must prevail. Furthermore, he regards the lyrisme visuel (Esprit Nouveau et les Poètes, 386) as something positive; although it is only a stage, the search for new forms is entirely justified.
Relation to other trends and epochs
For all its progressiveness, how does Apollinaire feel about past trends? In principle, he does not take any epoch as a direct model, although he has a relatively positive attitude towards antiquity - after all, he also needs the “myth concept” from this time in order to maintain his theory of the myth-making poet. In addition, he adopts virtues that come from these times, such as common sense, a critical mind and an overview of the universe and the human soul. Nevertheless, the esprit nouveau et les poètes is more than a “simple constatation de l'Antiquité” ( Esprit Nouveau et les Poètes , 385), as it takes up the ways of thinking from many different currents. However, he does not judge every epoch as positively as he did with classical antiquity . As already mentioned, he strictly rejects the characteristics of pompous Wagnerism. The esprit nouveau et les poètes is also more than the beau décor romantique (Esprit Nouveau et les Poètes, 385) - even the horrific and the ridiculous should be reproduced as what they are, i.e. truthfully.
After the Apollinaire Manifesto was published, it was Breton in particular who did not leave a good word on esprit nouveau et les poètes . Although he once praised Apollinaire beyond measure, even calling him, for example, the lyrisme en personne and ascribing it to the character of a "signal rocket", he can by no means agree with the ideas of the manifesto. The admiration for Apollinaire, the poet, would continue to exist, but Apollinaire, the theorist, could not get anything positive out of him. In general, Breton's choice of words is seen as relatively harsh on esprit nouveau et les poètes and also on Apollinaire. In La Révolution surréaliste , for example , a collection of articles on surrealism and painting, he writes that it was death that prevented Apollinaire in time from making himself even less popular. On November 22nd, 1922, at an art exhibition by Francis Picabia in Barcelona, he didn't have a good word for esprit nouveau - on the contrary. Breton sharply criticizes the néant de sa méditation . Besides, he would see absolutely no point in all the fuss that is being made about esprit nouveau et les poètes ; he emphasizes the inutilité de tout ce bruit that is obvious to him . Even in a later article in 1954 called Ombre non pas serpent, mais d'arbre en fleurs , he does not change his mind. Here he once again makes it clear that he has nothing to do with the theoretician Apollinaire; he even describes him as a médiocre théoricien . He also criticizes that every time Apollinaire tried to prophesy serenity, he failed. In addition, Apollinaire would represent views in his manifesto that are incompatible with the principles of Breton. Apollinaire clearly speaks out in favor of l'ordre and le bon sens . Breton, as the central figure of Surrealism, a movement that speaks out against limitations and restrictions of all kinds, has nothing to do with this. In his first Manifeste du Surréalisme in 1924, he describes Surrealism as one
«Automatisme psychique pur, par lequel on se propose d'exprimer, soit verbalement, soit par écrit, soit de toute autre manière, le fonctionnement réel de la pensée. Dictée de la pensée, en l'absence de tout contrôle exercé par la raison, en dehors de toute préoccupation esthétique ou morale. »
It is self-explanatory that Breton cannot support a system like esprit nouveau that restricts - or even censors - the free play of imagination through rules or obligations. On the other hand, it is imagination that should be at the center of surrealism.
«L'imagination est peut-être sur le point de reprendre ses droits. Si les profondeurs de notre esprit recèlent d'étranges forces capables d'augmenter celles de la surface, ou de lutter victorieusement contre elles, il ya tout intérêt à les capter, à les capter d'abord, pour les soumettre ensuite, s'il ya lieu, au contrôle de notre raison. »
Nor can he begin with the nationalist utterances of Apollinaire in esprit nouveau et les poètes . Certainly one has to consider that the esprit nouveau et les poètes originated in the time of the First World War and that one cannot measure it against the present understanding of nationalism ; Nevertheless, numerous poets, including Breton, viewed these strongly patriotic views as exaggerated. Thus, according to Apollinaire, all ideas and literary tendencies should emanate from France and reach the whole world, especially since it would only be the French who are capable of such an intellectual achievement. Surrealism, on the other hand, is an international movement that should not be restricted by national borders or the like.
But Breton should by no means remain the only one with such a negative opinion on esprit nouveau et les poètes . Another friend of Apollinaire who became a critic after the manifesto was published is André Billy . In literary terms he made a name for himself above all with the publication of numerous correspondence: among the most famous are the published letters he wrote with Apollinaire.
Although André Billy was also a good friend and admirer of Apollinaire, the poet, his judgment of the esprit nouveau et les poètes is no more positive than that of André Breton; however, André Billy chooses less harsh words for this. He first states that the esprit nouveau et les poètes is “très réellement son testament littéraire” ( Apollinaire vivant , 32). But this does not prevent him from criticizing Apollinaire's manifesto ; In more moderate terms than Breton, for example, Billy explains that Apollinaires " vues esthétiques, d'une modestie et d'un héroisme sans précédant, appellent le sourire et la sympathie, sinon l'acquiescement " ( Apollinaire vivant , 57). In this statement, Billy's central position, at least that of the 1920s, becomes clear. He does find positive words for Apollinaire, but only on a more character level. Billy cannot agree with the theorist either. Furthermore, speaking of Apollinaire's poem La Chanson du Mal Aimé , he remarks that « le poète de ces vers-là, ce n'est ni l'obus, ni la grippe qui l'ont tué, c'est l'âge , et c'est also 'l'esprit nouveau'. Maudit 'esprit nouveau' »( Apollinaire vivant , 68). On the one hand, you can clearly see how much Billy regrets the "fall" of his mentor, and on the other hand, what the esprit nouveau et les poètes generally represents for Billy: the death sentence for Apollinaire. Similar to Breton, Billy revisited Apollinaires esprit nouveau et les poètes around 20 years later . In 1947 he wrote in his second book, which he dedicated to Apollinaire, that he was certain that Apollinaire's early death was solely to blame for the bad reputation of esprit nouveau et les poètes . If his mentor had been able to revise his manifesto again and put certain facts in the right light in some places, people would think differently about him today. Billy also sees stronger parallels between surrealism and esprit nouveau than Breton. Breton admits that Apollinaire was instrumental in spreading the term surrealism and also that the concept of surprise is definitely connected with Apollinaire - but little more than that. Billy, on the other hand, can bridge the gap between the manifesto and beat the movement of surrealism . So he writes:
«The ambitions de l'esprit nouveau se sont éteintes avec lui. Non pas toutes, cependant. En tant qu'exploration du subconscient, le surréalisme a bien été une manifestation de l'esprit nouveau anti-esthétique, anit-littéraire et conforme aux principes posés par Apollinaire, notamment au principe de la surprise. »
Billy does not let himself be carried away to equate both ways of thinking, but he sees the similarity of the two, especially in the importance that the two attitudes attach to surprise . This is also confirmed by Breton when in 1950 he praised Francis Picardia as a master of surprise , which is the very concept that Apollinaire had already described in his esprit nouveau et les poètes . In 1965, it is not only the surprise that Billy wins from the manifesto as more or less the only positive point, but his entire standpoint towards Apollinaire's ideas between 1916 and 1918 has changed. Although he only goes into the content of the esprit nouveau et les poètes in detail , he now speaks of a signal character that the manifesto had for the period at that time. He mentions that Apollinaires esprit nouveau at this time "régnait sur la revue Sic de Pierre-Albert Birot, sur Nord-Sud de Pierre Reverdy, sur tous les poètes et peintres d'avant-garde" ( Œuvres poétiques , XXXVIII). Billy now gives Apollinaire the status of an announcer , a herald, a new humanism ; he also reconciled poetry with science. Apollinaire's approach was courageous without being excessively reckless.
Unlike the previous two receptionists, Francis Carmody was never personally acquainted with Guillaume Apollinaire; they haven't even lived at the same time. Carmody is therefore able to approach Apollinaire's work with a certain temporal distance and sometimes mentions different points of view than Breton and Billy.
It is Francis Carmody who in his work L'Esthétique de l'Esprit Nouveau labels the years 1912 to 1918 with the label of esprit nouveau . He is primarily referring to numerous artistic and literary activities during this time. He understands Apollinaires esprit nouveau as a hodgepodge of different ways of thinking and does not shy away from putting the stamp of esprit nouveau on other currents, such as futurism , creationism or even surrealism ; he even tries to relate Apollinaire's definition of cubism to esprit nouveau .
“Apollinaire tent de tout sauver et d'établir une unité artistique par l'expression 'esprit nouveau'; elle a peut de succès, d'abord parce que le maître lui-même lui donna plusieurs sens contradictoires, ensuite parce qu'elle est vague et à petites distances équivoque »
In addition, like Breton, he criticizes some substantive weaknesses or contradicting statements that the manifesto raises in his opinion. He hardly says anything about the conference itself or even the type of presentation; only one relatively superficial remark has come down to us. In this saying he only notes that Apollinaire did not make it too difficult. By proclaiming a new era in a non-warlike manner, Apollinaire is not taking too great a risk, according to Carmody - on the contrary. Nevertheless, Carmody is certain that "L'esprit nouveau (...) est l'esprit d'Apollinaire" ( Wijk , 22). This quote makes it clear that, despite all the criticism, Carmody is absolutely certain that the new spirit is inextricably linked with Apollinaire. When he wrote a treatise on the poet Apollinaire a few years later, between 1901 and 1914, he spoke indirectly about some central points raised by esprit nouveau et les poètes and for which it was criticized. Carmody makes it clear here that for him Apollinaire was by no means an outstanding theorist. In this assumption, he is thus in agreement with Breton's 1954 opinion of Apollinaire, the mediocre theorist, d'accord. He also states that Apollinaire's desire to combine poetry and progress was not good for him; Carmody chooses clear words here: Apollinaire was simply "pursued" by the longing to combine both fields, that is, lyric poetry and modern techniques. However, Carmody also admits that the concept of surprise is definitely something new and is absolutely related to the ideas of surrealism. Even if Carmody does not explicitly mention it, it is statements such as “ He denounces the very methods he had himself used in 1913 and was still using in 1917 ” ( Carmody , 121) that lead one to conclude that in his opinion Apollinaire is involved his manifest only wants to justify his own work and methods to a certain extent. Overall, it can be said that Francis Carmody's opinion of esprit nouveau et les poètes has not changed over time. A change in his views, as can be seen, for example, with André Billy, never occurs with him.
- Guillaume Apollinaire: L'Esprit nouveau et les poètes . In: Mercure de France , 491, 1918, pp. 385-396
- Henri Béhar: Les Pensées d'André Breton: guide alphabétique établi par Henri Behar . L'Age d'Homme, Lausanne 1988
- André Breton: Le Surréalisme et la Peinture . Gallimard, Paris 1979
- André Breton: Les Pas Perdus . Gallimard, Paris 1933
- Francis J. Carmody: The evolution of Apollinaire's poetics: 1901-1914 . Univ. of California Press, Berkeley 1963
- Veronika Krenzel-Zingerle: Apollinaire lectures: Speech intoxication in the Alcools . Narr, Tübingen 2003
- Claude Leroy: “Three encounters with the Esprit Nouveau.” The view from the skyscraper: avant-garde - avant-garde criticism - avant-garde research . Edited by Wolfgang Asholt. Rodopi, Amsterdam 2000, pp. 583-607.
- John H. Matthews: André Breton: Sketch for an early portrait . Benjamin, Amsterdam 1986
- Catherine Moore, Laurence Campa, Mark Moore: “Chronology.” Guillaume Apollinaire: Biography . 2008.
- Michel Murat: “'L'homme qui ment': réflexions sur la notion de lyrisme chez Breton” Le Sujet lyrique en question . Eds. Dominique Rabaté and Joëlle de Sermet and Yves Vadé. Modernités, Bordeaux 1996, pp. 151-163
- Margareth Wijk: Guillaume Apollinaire et l'esprit nouveau . Gleerup, Lund 1982
- Full text L'esprit nouveau et les poètes on the server of the University of Duisburg-Essen
- Catherine Moore, Laurence Campa, Mark Moore, “Chronology,” Guillaume Apollinaire: Biography, paras. 40-61, Sept. 2, 2009.
- Guillaume Apollinaire, "L'Esprit nouveau et les poètes," Mercure de France 491 (1918), pp. 385f.
- Guillaume Apollinaire, “L'Esprit nouveau et les poètes,” Mercure de France 491 (1918), p. 387.
- Guillaume Apollinaire, "L'Esprit nouveau et les poètes," Mercure de France 491 (1918), p. 388.
- Veronika Krenzel-Zingerle: Apollinaire-Lektüren: Sprachrausch in den Alcools . Narr, Tübingen 2003, p. 29.
- Guillaume Apollinaire, "L'Esprit nouveau et les poètes," Mercure de France 491 (1918), p. 393.
- Guillaume Apollinaire, "L'Esprit nouveau et les poètes," Mercure de France 491 (1918), p. 392f.
- Veronika Krenzel-Zingerle: Apollinaire-Lektüren: Sprachrausch in den Alcools . Narr, Tübingen 2003, p. 30.
- Guillaume Apollinaire, "L'Esprit nouveau et les poètes," Mercure de France 491 (1918), p. 391.
- Guillaume Apollinaire: L'Esprit nouveau et les poètes. In: Mercure de France 491 (1918), p. 392.
- Veronika Krenzel-Zingerle: Apollinaire-Lektüren: Sprachrausch in den Alcools . Narr, Tübingen 2003, p. 29 f.
- Guillaume Apollinaire: L'Esprit nouveau et les poètes. In: Mercure de France 491 (1918), p. 386.
- Guillaume Apollinaire, "L'Esprit nouveau et les poètes," Mercure de France 491 (1918), p. 385.
- Michel Murat: "'L'homme qui ment': réflexions sur la notion de lyrisme chez Breton" Le Sujet lyrique en question . Eds. Dominique Rabaté and Joëlle de Sermet and Yves Vadé. Modernités, Bordeaux 1996, p. 156.
- Claude Leroy: “Three encounters with the Esprit Nouveau.” The view from the skyscraper: avant-garde - avant-garde criticism - avant-garde research . Edited by Wolfgang Asholt. Rodopi, Amsterdam 2000, p. 588.
- Henri Béhar: Les Pensées d'André Breton: guide alphabétique établi par Henri Behar . L'Age d'Homme, Lausanne 1988, p. 58.
- John H. Matthews: André Breton: Sketch for an early portrait . Benjamin, Amsterdam 1986, p. 50.
- André Breton: Les Pas Perdus . Gallimard, Paris 1933, p. 185.
- Margareth Wijk: Guillaume Apollinaire et l'esprit nouveau . Gleerup, Lund 1982, p. 16 f.
- Margareth Wijk: Guillaume Apollinaire et l'esprit nouveau . Gleerup, Lund 1982, p. 17.
- Claude Leroy: “Three encounters with the Esprit Nouveau.” The view from the skyscraper: avant-garde - avant-garde criticism - avant-garde research . Edited by Wolfgang Asholt. Rodopi, Amsterdam 2000, pp. 593f.
- Margareth Wijk: Guillaume Apollinaire et l'esprit nouveau . Gleerup, Lund 1982, p. 18.
- André Breton: Le Surréalisme et la Peinture . Gallimard, Paris 1979, p. 220 f.
- Margareth Wijk: Guillaume Apollinaire et l'esprit nouveau. (Gleerup, Lund 1982), p. 18 f.
- Margareth Wijk: Guillaume Apollinaire et l'esprit nouveau . Gleerup, Lund 1982, p. 21.
- Claude Leroy: Three encounters with the Esprit Nouveau. The view from the skyscraper: avant-garde - avant-garde criticism - avant-garde research. Ed .: Wolfgang Asholt, Rodopi, Amsterdam 2000, p. 593.
- Margareth Wijk: Guillaume Apollinaire et l'esprit nouveau . Gleerup, Lund 1982, p. 21 f.
- Margareth Wijk: Guillaume Apollinaire et l'esprit nouveau . Gleerup, Lund 1982, p. 22.
- Francis J. Carmody: The evolution of Apollinaire's poetics: 1901-1914 . Univ. of California Press, Berkeley 1963, p. 121.