It is amazing that Professor Barzun, now in his eighties, should have produced so youthful and vigorous a book, an objective study that is at the same time so personal a document.
The New Criterion

An Essay On French Verse

Nonfiction by Jacques Barzun

In An Essay on French Verse–For Readers of English Poetry, Jacques Barzun addresses the baffling English prejudice against French poetry. Barzun’s many-faceted and entertaining study muses on six hundred years of French verse, its rules and forms and how they evolved. It also has significant sections on the French language itself, its sounds and difficulties; on verse music in language generally; on the character and achievements of the greatest French poets; and finally, on the social and political conditions that encouraged successive innovations, including the prevailing wordwide practice of free verse. The Essay, moreover, draws not only on a lifetime’s reading, but on personal reminiscences as well: of stuffy poetry lessons in the French lycée; of the poet Apollinaire expounding his views on language to amuse the child sitting on his knee; of the author’s great-grandmother telling him about proper French pronunciation, as it was in her youth, eighty years earlier. In sum, Barzun’s book goes a long way toward answering the question posed in 1917 by A. E. Housman to André Gide: How is it that every nation has produced poetry except France?

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Paperback (published April 1, 1991)

ISBN
9780811211581
Price US
15.95

Clothbound (published April 1, 1991)

ISBN
9780811211574
Page Count
154

Jacques Barzun

Contemporary scholar of American culture and historian

It is amazing that Professor Barzun, now in his eighties, should have produced so youthful and vigorous a book, an objective study that is at the same time so personal a document.
The New Criterion
Barzun writes with unfailing, stylish lucidity.
The New Yorker