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L'Antre des mots - Autour de la poésie de Vladimír Holan

18-19.36 L'Antre des mots - Autour de la poésie de Vladimír Holan

Edited by: Xavier Galmiche and Jan Rubeš

Volume: 18-19
Issue: 36
May 2009


Xavier Galmiche
Avant-propos. "L'Antre des mots" : autour de la poésie de Vladimír Holan (Prague 1905 - 1980)
Jan Rubeš
Retours sur une oeuvre : contextes et interprétations
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Although the poet Vladimir Holan (1905-1980) belongs to the Czech modernist generation, it is difficult to assess his work either in this context or in the wider Czech literary tradition. First, Holan's poetry is hermetic, based on the autonomy of the word, philosophical references and cultural allusions, thus offering multiple possibilities of interpretation. Second, several personal tragedies drove him into ever deeper isolation, further exacerbated by the strain of living under the communist regime. This article describes the relationship between the events of Holan's life and the main features of his poetic work.

Martin Petráš
Théophanie brève : à propos des références bibliques dans la poésie de Holan
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Holan's referencing of the Bible is frequent, even if we cannot assert that it is the sole, or even privileged, influence. This paper does not intend to portray the scope of these allusions, but rather to indicate by means of a few examples how and in what sense he makes varied use of the Bible's familiar imaginary landscape. More often than not his approach consists in re-working a biblical theme by superimposing it upon another theme. He was also very conscious of the poetic dimension of the Bible, most notably that of the Old Testament. If the referencing of the Bible takes on great significance in Holan, then it is primarily due to the possibilities offered by the Bible to establish a parallel between poetic creation and creation as it is set forth in the Bible itself. We have access to Holan's own handwritten annotations in the copies of the Bible in his personal library. These annotations serve an important function by allowing us to examine the correspondences between Holan's commentaries and their transformations in his writings.

Jiří Pelán
Toscane de Vladimír Holan : essai d'interprétation
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The author accentuates what he perceives as an affinity, in terms of structure and ideas, between "Noc s Hamletem" (Night with Hamlet) and "Toskána" (Tuscany), two of Holan's poems, written in 1956 and edited in the early 1960s. The autobiographic protagonists of both poems are lifelong captives to their absurd ejection into the world. While an individual, as an "incessant consciousness," has to accept such a situation, a poet's task is to wage a struggle for a transition "from nature to being." Toskána's epic horizon is determined by three chronotopes: a chronotope of Bohemia where the time of the pragmatic everyday routine clashes with a permanently living historic memory (St. Agnes), a chronotope of Italy as a paralyzing space locked in its past, and a chronotope of world history as a never-ending Babylonian chaos.

Jorjeta Tcholakova
Orphée, l'orphisme et la pensée philosophique de Vladimír Holan
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The scene representing the conversation between Orpheus and Eurydice in "A Night with Hamlet" (Noc s Hamletem, 1964) by Vladimír Holan is indicative of both the philosophical and existential views of this extremely important Czech poet and his poetic world. Holan transforms the mythical story, and thus releases the image of Orpheus' divine glory and makes it a voice of human fear in front of the exposed face of the Being. The changes in the narrative plan eliminate the major components of the original story, the katabasis and anabasis. The dialogue between the characters, which is also a result of the narrative transformation of the myth, problematizes the ontological value of the Word and also outlines some concepts, fundamental for Orphism: dualism, initiation, reincarnation, memory and oblivion.
Zuzana Stolz-Hladká
La conception spatiale et corporelle du verbe chez Vladimír Holan et Věra Linhartová
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This study on the spatial and corporeal concept of the word in the work of Vladimír Holan and Věra Linhartová seeks to characterise the concept of the word in the texts of two contemporary Czech poets from different generations. Their concepts involve the use of similar imagery in discussing the word. They also show the same quest for a “supreme sense” in the poetic word. Their concept of the word stems from an ancient tradition in the interpretation of the biblical word, conceiving of the word as a multiple spatial structure of four different semantic layers. In the work of the two poets, the word has a complex spatial structure that needs to be explored in every sense. Poetry presents itself as the art which explores verbal space. This special concept of the word indicates why the poetry of both poets is so rich in hidden meanings and could be called “hermetic poetry.” The depth of the semantic space directs the “explorer” beyond the common meaning toward the unexpected. In this way these two modern poets remind us of the fact that one has to look behind the surface of words in order to grasp their sense. They also remind us that words never are “innocent” or pure but bear the weight and function of their cultural memory. Both poets augment this spatial concept by the corporeal one, as in the New Testament, where Christ is presented as “the Word of God” made flesh. Like the Word of God that suffered on the cross, poetic words suffer on the cross of their given meaning. Their “resurrection” consists on the one hand in the reconstruction of their lost, hidden or original meaning, on the other hand in their liberation from given senses.

Petra James
La poésie obscure de Vladimír Holan
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This article aims to study aspects of contemplative darkness present in Holan's poetry. As the analysis reveals, such darkness is not to be considered only as a passive scheme open to nothingness, but also as an active force, a major condition for the poet's philosophical and poetical explorations. The references to curtains, veils and mist hint at the presence of a mystery which can be seen only through the flash of a short-lived revelation. The poet must wait for these moments to catch a glimpse of the enigma of existence. Such a moment of revelation is dearly paid for by extreme poetical perceptions, sustained by acutely precise images. The narcissistic indulgence in formal perfection gives way to a patient disclosure of "the game of Being with the poet."
Jaroslav Hroch
Logos and Dialectics: Hermeneutic Approach to the Poetic Work of Vladimír Holan
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This essay tries to approach to the poetic works of Vladimír Holan from the point of philosophical and depth hermeneutics, particularly analysing the relationship between myth and Holan's philosophy of being. In Holan's conception the sense of myth is near the Logos in its possibility to approach us. Holan's ontological inquiries are also represented along with his relation to Heraclitus' dialectical philosophy. From the point of style and ideology Holan's poetic sentences can be comprehended as an original analogy of Heraclitus's philosophical sentences. In the part of the essay devoted to the lyrical-epic poem Terezka Planetová the author tries to prove that the heroine of the title has an archetypical character and this fact is proved by the transformation of the narrator. That creative change is the counterpart of the narrator's life story characterized as the process of individuation. In this context we can interpret Terezka Planetová as a poem also concerning the maturation process of the poet himself accompanied by confrontation with the soul-image, enabling his deeper spirituality.
Xavier Galmiche
Un Oedipe générationnel : que faire du symbolisme ? (Holan, Nezval vers 1930)
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For the literary history, the aesthetic generation to which Holan belongs is that of the confirmation of the avant-garde. But a fine analysis of the interwar period gives evidence of a concurrently essential and conflicting relation with the early 20th century. The filiation with the Symbolists is differently analyzed and interpreted: Vítezslav Nezval suggests, above all in his Modern Poetic Trends (Moderní básnické směry, on 1937), to pass them over. Vladimír Holan on the contrary does not stop seeing an example of the poetic rise towards the absolute, as indicated by collections such as Breath (Vanutí, 1932) or Bow (Oblouk, 1934). But in his poems in prose, "Lemuria" (1934-1938), and maybe more clearly, "Fragment" (Torso, 1933), Holan proposes a poetry which gives up the ambition of sublimity. This resignation is not anecdotal: indeed, it announces the approval of the negative which will stand out as an essential part of its poetic long-term project, and which will bloom in his greatest later works ("Without title," "Pain," "A Night with Hamlet").
Alena Petruželková
Are Holan's Glosses an Autonomous Literary Genre?
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There are two sources for our analysis of the topic - Holan's excerpts in his notebooks and glosses in the books. Our text discusses differences between them. First of all it tries to reconstruct the relationship between the excerpts and poems. Secondly it characterises the glosses as commentaries of actual and historical events, religion, art, literature and his personal relationships with other people. Our speculation about glosses as an autonomous genre is exemplified with many citations of Holan's glosses and the titles of commented books.
Jean-Gaspard Páleníček
"A quoi bon ?" : Vladimír Holan, poète en temps de détresse
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Vladimir Holan is par excellence "a poet in times of distress," to quote one of the most famous lines of Hölderlin's elegy "Bread and Wine" (Brot und Wein, 1800). This paper tries to interpret the attitude of the lyric subject in Holan's poetry as the primacy of ethics against politics or aesthetics. To be poetically responsible for the world means to be conscious that there is no superiority of the poet over ordinary people, even if it is his main duty to save (or to reactivate) the special power of the poetic word: the use of ordinary language in Holan's poetry is not in contradiction with his "orphism," and that is one of his most original distinguishing features in European poetry of the twentieth century. The only privilege of poetry in "times of distress" consists in revealing that the essence of freedom is profoundly poetic. That is why, beyond his baroque complexity, Holan's poetry aims paradoxically at a superior "simplicity," not far from the poems of Rainer Maria Rilke's maturity, especially in the last Duino Elegies.
Michel Maslowski
Traité de poésie de Czesław Miłosz
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This study presents a portrait of Czesław Miłosz, a major 20th century Polish poet, who - for his ontological concern over the disenchanted world - could be compared to Vladimír Holan. The Treatise on Poetry, a philosophical poem, evokes subjects treated among Plato's triad of values: the good in the century of genocides, the truth at the time of lying and beauty or a quest for the real. The central question concerns ontology, and in particular the confrontation of Thomism (to be) and the Hegelian system, as well as Marxism which originated from it (to become) with its central metaphor of the eternal moment. For Miłosz poetry has to be philosophical, as philosophical imagination is what Czesław Miłosz's - and most likely also Vladimír Holan's - poetry have in common.
Hélène Henry-Safier
Vladimír Holan, Joseph Brodsky : convergences ?
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We shall be considering the possibility of a convergence between Vladimír Holan and Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996), two East European poets, both of whom tried to express the trinity of poetry, time and the sentient person in the light of the destinies and writings of their great Russian predecessors. In particular, we shall study their ‘long poems' which unfurl as descriptions of lived experience and as the reality of a moment of speech. As ‘stories' they are of the narrative epic genre, but in their telling they are closer to the meditative, a genre inhabited by an author who apprehends the world and displays thought at work. Sombre epics, which try to reflect the twentieth century. Brodsky rejects "pity" in the Russian sense and replaces it by the categorical imperative of aesthetics. His only universal value is language. He takes no account of Akhmatova's experience: the transcendental illumination, the "miracle" that occurs when all is emptied, lost, destroyed. Holan, however - with his underlying deep and bitter Christianity - obstinately explores these moments of illumination, trying to associate light and shadow, to inhabit and scrutinise pain and its relation with "joy," because it is from that point that the question can arise and the poem take shape.

Jan Rubeš
Invariants dans la poésie de Vladimír Holan, František Halas et Eugenio Montale
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A comparison of Vladimír Holan (1905-1980), František Halas (1901-1949) and Eugenio Montale (1896-1981), three poets of the same generation, suggests a number of similarities: they all kept their distance from the avant-garde movements of their day, which stressed the delight of modernity and a utopian vision of the world. Their poetry is also connected on a formal level through a particular form of poetic language, rich in neologisms, macaronisms, colloquialisms or irregular rhythm. Instead of offering assertions, they ask questions, formulate doubts in a tone of skepticism and irony. In their use of fragments and a dialogue both with themselves and the reader, they minimise emotion and show a particular way to perceive and express the world in the 20th  century.


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