“In the Spreading Roots of Events”

Rainer Maria Rilke and Paul Valéry on Literary Tradition

  • Matilde Manara Collège de France
Parole chiave: Modernist Poetry, Tradition, Authority, Elegiac Genre, Paul Valéry, Rainer Maria Rilke, Thomas Stearns Eliot, Hannah Arendt


The aim of this essay is to address one of the most frequently discussed aspects of Modernist poetry: the relationship with the literary tradition. Hannah Arendt’s reflections on prepolitical authority and its transformations will help us to analyze the way Paul Valéry and Rainer Maria Rilke interact with the models and the forms of the past. Thomas Stearns Eliot’s and Paul Valéry’s theories will allow us to better inquire the stakes of such a relationship and to question the relevance of a notion often used to define Modernist poetry: Classicism.


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