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French StudiesA welcome addition to the growing body of critical analysis in English which engages with la chanson française.
— Ian Pickup, University of Birmingham
In celebration of his unique talent and in commemoration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of his death, this is the first book-length study in English of the work of Belgian chansonnier, Jacques Brel. Brel and Chanson traces probable influences on the creative process of Brel's early, later and always eclectic reading. It goes on to examine his principal preoccupations as evidenced by the chansons, such as childhood, love and friendship, and human stupidity; and also to elucidate the unique use of language. This study not only analyzes the complexities inherent in writing and composing, but also in the performance of a chanson. It considers how Brel's pitiless implication of himself in his every criticism of mankind's shortcomings distinguishes his work. This study is of great use to anyone interested in 20th century popular European culture, and required reading for all those exploring the rich and vibrant world of chanson.
Chapter 1 Preface (and apologia) Chapter 2 Acknowledgements Chapter 3 Introduction Chapter 4 Brel Chansonnier-craftsman Chapter 5 Affairs of the Heart Chapter 6 "Des foréts de symbols": The Ways of Water; "Quand un bateau passé…"; Bestiary Chapter 7 Children and Childhood Chapter 8 Types of Ambiguity Chapter 9 "La mauvaise fée du monde" Chapter 10 "Un petit peu moi…" Chapter 11 Notes Chapter 12 Biographical Details Chapter 13 Selective Bibliography Chapter 14 Index