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  • Danse et poésie: le pli du mouvement dans l’écriture. Michaux, Celan, du Bouchet, Noël par Alice Godfroy
  • Áine Larkin
Danse et poésie: le pli du mouvement dans l’écriture. Michaux, Celan, du Bouchet, Noël. Par Alice Godfroy. (Bibliothèque de littérature générale et comparée, 143.) Paris: Honoré Champion, 2015. 348 pp., ill.

This rich, carefully structured book, derived from the first third of its author’s doctoral thesis, engages in close, thorough analysis of works by the four post-World War II poets mentioned in the title, in order to ascertain the extent to which elements of dance can be found in their works. Alice Godfroy acknowledges from the outset that these writers are for the most part not explicit in their appropriation of or engagement with dance as art form: ‘il n’est nul besoin de chercher le thème de la danse pour trouver la danse dans la poésie’ (p. 16). The analysis is carried out in three parts and on three levels: the poetic, the poietic, and the infra-poietic. The first part explores post-World War II silence in the chosen poetry as regards dance, with the exception of some of Michaux’s work, which is analysed in relation to Paul Valéry’s evocations of dancers. Godfroy argues that Michaux moves beyond metaphor to engage in dance through language itself, and that the poetic works analysed in this volume ‘[ont] moins boudé la danse que sa thématisation, à savoir son impossible représentation verbale’ (p. 311). Traces of dance are found in the poetry at crucial moments where language tries to articulate its own creative impulses. The second part explores the question of whether a dialogue between poetry and dance is implicit within creative processes, arguing that dance can be found in the forces that underlie the poems rather than in their explicit themes. This tendency is in line with the twentieth-century crisis of representation, which means that absence and presence are articulated simultaneously and poets must deal with their awareness of the failure of language to make reality present as opposed to representing it. Through its new engagement with the body and the body’s way(s) of making meaning, modern dance offers poetry some hope of a third way that avoids both the impossible task of representation and an attitude of complete resignation. In the final section, the preceding analyses are crystallized in the new concept of ‘dansité’, which Godfroy arrives at after exploring the chosen poets’ relationships to modern painters and their preoccupation with line. ‘Dansité’ concerns poets’ fascination with dance as inner movement and as forces of desire that shape and mould internal space before being expressed in poetry. Michaux’s calligraphic works translate the double implosion of the pictorial and the literary into half-bodies, half-letters, creating a new language that is plastic, improvised, and kinaesthetic. For Godfroy, the dialogue between poetry and dance takes place within the body in a state preceding words and images; the physicality of the poetry explored here emanates from the poets’ bodily experiences of silence, through which they contrive to increase the density of their language and to charge it with greater energy.

Áine Larkin
University of Aberdeen


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