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News of WarCivilian Poetry 1936-1945$
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Rachel Galvin

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190623920

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190623920.001.0001

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Raymond Queneau Reading the Newspaper

Raymond Queneau Reading the Newspaper

(p.200) 5 Raymond Queneau Reading the Newspaper
News of War

Rachel Galvin

Oxford University Press

The work of Raymond Queneau, who is usually regarded as avoiding making political statements, presents a fruitful case for examining how a civilian writer critiques the transmission of news of war through formal procedures. In poems that explore civilian witnessing and reception of war news, the figure of a solitary reader hunched over a newspaper during a political crisis appears at the same time as Queneau experiments with forms drawn from classical rhetoric (like the progymnasmata, a handbook of rhetorical exercises) and with journalistic formulae (like the fait divers). Close examination of Exercices de style, along with a series of poems Queneau wrote about the Munich Agreement, reveals he developed tropes and schemes that convey obliquity, self-interruption, and repetition as ways of articulating the civilian experience and critiquing the narrative framing of war news.

Keywords:   Raymond Queneau, Oulipo, news, wartime, classical rhetoric, fait divers, civilian, witnessing, Munich Agreement, poetry

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