Modern Languages and Literatures, Department of


Date of this Version

September 1995


Published in French Forum 20:3 (September 1995). Copyright (c) 1995 French Forum.


Michael Bishop has written extensively and well on some of the best of mid and late twentieth-century French poets--Char, Deguy, Jaccottet-and in this volume turns his attention to a thematic consideration of the major practitioners of the last century. The results are somewhat mixed. On the one hand, just about everyone is included whom one would expect to find (Lamartine, Vigny, Baudelaire, Hugo, Mallarmé, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Lautréamont, Laforgue; Desbordes-Valmore is present, Musset is not). Moreover, Bishop has read through the oeuvre of each poet, so his perceptive observations pertain not only to familiar poems but also to some that have the merit of being less so. On the other hand, this reader experienced throughout a double sense of frustration with the thematic approach as applied here, and with the failure to establish or identify the audience to whom the book is addressed.