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  • The Renaissance of the Lyric in French Romanticism: Elegy, "Pome" and Ode by Laurence M.PorterReview by: John Porter HoustonThe French Review, Vol. 53, No. 6, Numro spcial sur le Qubec (May, 1980), pp. 942-943Published by: American Association of Teachers of FrenchStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/391952 .Accessed: 09/12/2014 04:04

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  • that separates them, Chateaubriand's first two major works share a method and a spirit. Hodgepodge compilations, filled with bold confrontations ("Caractere des Atheniens et des Francais," "Parallele de Virgile et de Racine"), they both furnish similar and astonishing descriptive passages and personal revelations. They complement and illuminate each other. Both stood in need of an edition that could show what Chateaubriand owed to now- obscure predecessors; the Genie in particular needed the kind of source study accomplished brilliantly by Malakis, Weil, and Letessier for the Itineraire, Atala and Rene, and the Vie de Rance. With the aid of the very remarkable present edition, one can now place young Chateaubriand much more precisely in his intellectual milieu, gauge his originality, monitor the development of his style, and inspect the fine detail of the evolving relationship between two "literary" texts and a rapidly changing social and political situation from 1793 to 1802.

    This Pleiade volume is a real gift. Though we had at least a good paperback Genie (Garnier-Flammarion, 1966), there had been no Essai in a century. Each text is here accompanied by a long and learned introductory essay, a remarkable bibliographic history, a copious selection of variants, lengthy footnotes, explaining references, pointing out sources, judging lucidly both lapses and strengths-plenty of both!-and a full and up-to- date list of references plus an index of names.

    Chateaubriand wrote of the style of his first work that it "renferme tous les germes de ce qu'on a bien voulu traiter avec quelque indulgence dans mes ecrits d'un age plus mr" (p. 29). Specialists have long turned to the Essai to observe this "germination" in substance as well as style; the present publication will encourage others to turn to it for its singular representation of the spirit of a new age and its strange poetic and political lucidities.

    Chateaubriand wrote to Fontanes on 25 October 1799 concerning Des beautes poetiques et morales de la religion chretienne et de sa superiorite sur tous les autres cultes de la terre (one of the Genie's working titles): "J'y ai mis tout ce que je puis, car j'ai senti vivement l'interet du sujet" (p. 1670): indeed he did "put" everything he could find into an ceuvre de circonstance (Regard delineates clearly the "circonstance," by studying the Genie's com- mercial history as well as its literary and historical context). But Chateaubriand's rather calculating "interest" in the matter was doubtless a genuinely felt interest as well, for Chateaubriand wrote from experience, with sincere enthusiasm. It was this very "Romantic" personal lyricism and elegiac yearning portrayed in his novel prose that so charmed and inspired contemporaries and followers: indeed, that modeled, if only by horrified contrast, two whole generations of French writers.

    No student of early French Romanticism can henceforth ignore this edition. Its erudition appears impeccable, its structure and logic are solid, it is presented for maximum usability. Maurice Regard won the Prix de la Critique for his splendid 1969 Pleiade edition of Chateaubriand's CEuvres romanesques et voyages. This Pleiade deserves the prize even more.

    Yale University Charles A. Porter

    PORTER, LAURENCE M. The Renaissance of the Lyric in French Romanticism: Elegy, "Poeme" and Ode. (French Forum Monographs, 10.) Lexington, Ky.: French Forum Publishers, 1978. Pp. 143.

    This carefully worked-out study is centered on the poetry of the 1820s, when Lamartine, Vigny, and Hugo were writing neoclassical verse but with a difference. The difference is Porter's subject. Lamartine, for example, "totally renewed the elegiac genre with a dense constellation of devices all reinforcing the basic dynamism of appeal and response" (p. 45).

    that separates them, Chateaubriand's first two major works share a method and a spirit. Hodgepodge compilations, filled with bold confrontations ("Caractere des Atheniens et des Francais," "Parallele de Virgile et de Racine"), they both furnish similar and astonishing descriptive passages and personal revelations. They complement and illuminate each other. Both stood in need of an edition that could show what Chateaubriand owed to now- obscure predecessors; the Genie in particular needed the kind of source study accomplished brilliantly by Malakis, Weil, and Letessier for the Itineraire, Atala and Rene, and the Vie de Rance. With the aid of the very remarkable present edition, one can now place young Chateaubriand much more precisely in his intellectual milieu, gauge his originality, monitor the development of his style, and inspect the fine detail of the evolving relationship between two "literary" texts and a rapidly changing social and political situation from 1793 to 1802.

    This Pleiade volume is a real gift. Though we had at least a good paperback Genie (Garnier-Flammarion, 1966), there had been no Essai in a century. Each text is here accompanied by a long and learned introductory essay, a remarkable bibliographic history, a copious selection of variants, lengthy footnotes, explaining references, pointing out sources, judging lucidly both lapses and strengths-plenty of both!-and a full and up-to- date list of references plus an index of names.

    Chateaubriand wrote of the style of his first work that it "renferme tous les germes de ce qu'on a bien voulu traiter avec quelque indulgence dans mes ecrits d'un age plus mr" (p. 29). Specialists have long turned to the Essai to observe this "germination" in substance as well as style; the present publication will encourage others to turn to it for its singular representation of the spirit of a new age and its strange poetic and political lucidities.

    Chateaubriand wrote to Fontanes on 25 October 1799 concerning Des beautes poetiques et morales de la religion chretienne et de sa superiorite sur tous les autres cultes de la terre (one of the Genie's working titles): "J'y ai mis tout ce que je puis, car j'ai senti vivement l'interet du sujet" (p. 1670): indeed he did "put" everything he could find into an ceuvre de circonstance (Regard delineates clearly the "circonstance," by studying the Genie's com- mercial history as well as its literary and historical context). But Chateaubriand's rather calculating "interest" in the matter was doubtless a genuinely felt interest as well, for Chateaubriand wrote from experience, with sincere enthusiasm. It was this very "Romantic" personal lyricism and elegiac yearning portrayed in his novel prose that so charmed and inspired contemporaries and followers: indeed, that modeled, if only by horrified contrast, two whole generations of French writers.

    No student of early French Romanticism can henceforth ignore this edition. Its erudition appears impeccable, its structure and logic are solid, it is presented for maximum usability. Maurice Regard won the Prix de la Critique for his splendid 1969 Pleiade edition of Chateaubriand's CEuvres romanesques et voyages. This Pleiade deserves the prize even more.

    Yale University Charles A. Porter

    PORTER, LAURENCE M. The Renaissance of the Lyric in French Romanticism: Elegy, "Poeme" and Ode. (French Forum Monographs, 10.) Lexington, Ky.: French Forum Publishers, 1978. Pp. 143.

    This carefully worked-out study is centered on the poetry of the 1820s, when Lamartine, Vigny, and Hugo were writing neoclassical verse but with a difference. The difference is Porter's subject. Lamartine, for example, "totally renewed the elegiac genre with a dense constellation of devices all reinforcing the basic dynamism of appeal and response" (p. 45).

    942 942 FRENCH REVIEW FRENCH REVIEW

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  • As it is obvious, Porter is not setting up an opposition neoclassical/Romantic but is concerned with genre theory; local effects of historical style interest him less than continuities in poetic structures. After Lamartine and the elegiac tradition come Vigny and the poeme-epic genre, whose characteristic lies in gesture and posture, taking in Vigny the form of "humiliation, glorious defeat, or resistance." So far Porter's method is essentially a comparative one: Lamartine is put beside other elegiacs, Vigny beside Millevoye and Byron.

    Hugo's ode, according to the author, is characterized b