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Letters to Madeleine

Tender as Memory

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 World War I. 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.

Writing about the letters in his biography of Apollinaire, Francis Steegmuller noted, “Nowhere, is there a more ‘living picture’ of a poet in a war . . . or, outside of Stendhal, a more vivid picture of war itself.” 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 World War I as well.

615 pages | 22 halftones | 7 1/2 x 8 2/3 | © 2010

The French List

Literature and Literary Criticism: Romance Languages

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“This is an extraordinary discovery. These letters and poems, not fully known even in French until 2005, are truly fascinating, from the description of trench life to the measurements of the engagement ring. The translations are magnificent and the editorial presentation is highly informative. I was delighted.”

Mary Ann Caws, editor, Yale Anthology of Twentieth-Century French Poetry

Table of Contents

Translator’s Note
Editor’s Foreword
Editor’s Note on the New French Edition (2005)
Preface to the 1952 edition by Madeleine Pagès

Letters to Madeleine

Addenda: Four Undated Poems and an Undated Postcard

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