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L ’E sp r it C r é a t e u r the m aterial appears here for the first tim e, such as the lengthy genealogy Villiers w rote in defense o f his nam e and race, and that the editors astutely describe as personal m ythology rather than history; or the obituary that Villiers under an assum ed nam e w rote, for his father, which concludes with the revealing boast that, despite the loss o f his fortune, the M arquis “ n’avait jam ais sollicité d ’em ploi, depuis la m ort du roi Charles X ” (II, 835). T he image of Villiers that emerges from the m any hundreds o f pages o f com m entary, notes and variants (178 pages for A xel, 185 for the Contes cruels, 216 for L 'Evefu tu re) will not seem new to those fam iliar with the editors’ previous w ork, simply m ore detailed. A nd it seems too bad, in a way, that som e recent theoretical writing on Villiers, while cited in the bibliography, did not filter into the general discussion o f the author. Sim ilarly, provocative stagings o f two o f Villiers’ plays (Le N ouveau m onde by B arrault in 1977 and L a R évolte at the Petit-O déon in 1980) are m entioned, but not discussed at any length, whereas premieres are studied for dozens of pages. But an état présent o f this kind is not the province o f an edition like the one M M . Castex and Ra’itt have produced. A nd it is the editors’ com plete­ ness here that m akes one sense the new directions to be taken. It rem ains, then, for future scholars to begin the w ork o f assessing what the im age of Villiers has becom e as we approach the 150th anniversary o f his birth in 1988, and the centenary o f his death in 1989. They will be aided in every possible way by having at their disposal this m onum ental edition, and grateful for the tenacious belief in the im portance of a w riter that brought it about. J o h n A n z a l o n e Skidm ore College Shuhsi Kao. L ir e V a i .è r y . Paris: Librairie Jose C orti, 1985. Pp. 212. Shuhsi K ao’s penetrating study situates itself in the gap, as she puts it, between Valéry’s theoretical reflection and his writing practice, contesting the view stubbornly adhered to since W orld W ar 11 that Valéry is interesting for his insights concerning language, but that his form ally conservative poetry is jejune. W hat interests Kao is not to recuperate Valéry for poststructuralism , but to dem onstrate the rigor and com m itm ent with which he lays bare the points o f convergence and opposition between the arbitrary o f poetic writing and the agreed-upon o f language convention. A lthough she focuses her analysis on three m ajor Valéry texts—M on Faust, the L eonardo m aterial, and La Jeune Parque—she draws on work spanning Valéry’s entire lifetime, the Cahiers, especially, and certain key essays, to argue her case. The sentence Kao uses in her conclusion to sum up Valéry’s posi­ tion at the juncture of poetry and theory could very well apply to her own critical project: “ La Poésie n ’aura pas pu avoir lieu sans la théorie posée et vécue com m e hypothèse” (p. 199). This is a tightly argued, densely conceptualized book; the presentation is crisp, clear, and elegantly econom ical. Theory is never applied for theory’s sake, but to understand how language can signify in new ways. Im itating the key Valéryan figure o f L ’O uroboras (the serpent eating its tail), Kao begins with M on Faust, Valéry’s last im portant text, written in the 1940s. A ppropriately for this revisionary and backward-glancing work, she addresses the issue of originality through...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1931-0234
Print ISSN
0014-0767
Pages
pp. 108-109
Launched on MUSE
2017-07-05
Open Access
No
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