Letters to Madeleine

Guillaume Apollinaire

Translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith


7.5 x 8.7 inches, 624pp, 22 halftones. December 2010

ISBN : 9781905422920

Rs  675.00 (HB)
$30.00 (HB)
£20.50 (HB)

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Letters to Madeleine collects for the first time in English the remarkable letters and poems sent by French poet Guillaume Apollinaire to his fiancée Madeleine Pagès during World War I. Stationed in the trenches of Champagne, this man of letters who had been at the forefront of the surrealist movement was transformed overnight into an artilleryman.


The fascinating correspondence bears witness to the typical yet deeply idiosyncratic experience of Apollinaire at an especially crucial moment of his existence as man and artist. Apollinaire shares with Madeleine his thoughts on art and literature from Racine to Tolstoy, and at the same time he uniquely documents the daily life of a soldier at the front during the Great War. As well, the letters reveal intimate and little-known aspects of Apollinaire’s personality—from his childhood and tastes to his grandest aesthetic ideas.


Writing about the letters in his biography of Apollinaire, Francis Steegmuller noted, 'Nowhere, is there a more ‘living picture’ of a poet in a war . . . or, outside of Stendhal, a more vivid picture of war itself.' Letters to Madeleine is a moving portrait of a poet facing one of humanity’s starkest realities, and it will be of interest to not only fans of Apollinaire but those interested in personal accounts of World War I as well. 

Wilhelm Apollinaris de Kostrowitzki, known by the pseudonym Guillaume Apollinaire (1880–1918), was among the foremost poets of the early twentieth century. Apollinaire’s works include The Decaying Enchanter, The Bestiary, The Spirits, and Caligrams. He is credited with coining the term surrealism. 


Donald Nicholson-Smith’s translations include works by Guy Debord, Jean Piaget, Jean Patrick Manchette, Paco Ignacio Taibo II, J.B. Pontalis and Jean Laplanche, Thierry Jonquet, Henri Lefebvre and Raoul Vaneigem. Born in Manchester, England, he is a long-time denizen of New York city.

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