Refiguring the Muse

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Although the muse is an integral element in discussions of poetic creation, no extended study before Refiguring the Muse has addressed the role of this figure in French literature. This work focuses on the poetry of Stéphane Mallarmé, Albert Samain, Sully Prudhomme, Anna de Noailles, and Renée Vivien and takes as its central concern the relationships between poetic expression and the social, cultural, and historical representations of gender between 1870 and 1914. Dr. Levy's approach to the subject is twofold. ...
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Overview

Although the muse is an integral element in discussions of poetic creation, no extended study before Refiguring the Muse has addressed the role of this figure in French literature. This work focuses on the poetry of Stéphane Mallarmé, Albert Samain, Sully Prudhomme, Anna de Noailles, and Renée Vivien and takes as its central concern the relationships between poetic expression and the social, cultural, and historical representations of gender between 1870 and 1914. Dr. Levy's approach to the subject is twofold. First, she redefines the term "muse" in order to take into account the changes that the word has undergone within the French historical and literary context since the thirteenth century. Then, she shows how the figure of the poetic muse itself changes and begins to be liberated from the nineteenth-century concept that had kept the trope frozen in a passive role. The discussion is contextualized through an examination of the evolution of the muse from Baudelaire through the Surrealists and ultimately demonstrates how the poetic muse changed at the turn of the century.

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Product Details

Table of Contents

Foreword
Introduction: Reconfiguring the Canon 1
1 Reevaluating the Muse 9
The Muse Within a Historical Context 9
Redefining the Muse 19
2 The Woman Muse 25
Herodiade as Muse 28
Cleopatra as Muse 43
Marie Magdalene as Muse 49
The Woman's Death as Muse: Noailles and Vivien 52
3 Muses and Inspiration 67
Female Sexuality as Inspiration 73
Sully Prudhomme and Bergsonian Inspiration 78
Vivien's Loss of Inspiration 85
Noailles's Alternative Muse 89
4 The Liberation of the Poetic Muse: From Baudelaire to the Surrealists 97
The Genius and The Muse: Baudelaire and Rimbaud 98
Scientific Genius and Poetic Chance 112
The Genius Transformed, The Muse Liberated 124
Conclusion 141
Appendix: Selected Poetry 147
Bibliography 167
Index 183
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