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What Forms Can DoThe Work of Form in 20th- and 21st- Century French Literature and Thought$
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Patrick Crowley and Shirley Jordan

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789620658

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789620658.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 24 September 2021

A la dérive

A la dérive

Drifting in and out of Form in French Literature and Visual Art from Bataille to Bergvall

(p.271) Chapter Seventeen A la dérive
What Forms Can Do

Eric Robertson

Liverpool University Press

The notion of the formless found a lasting definition in Documents, the dissident Surrealist magazine led by Georges Bataille, Carl Einstein and Michel Leiris from 1929 to 1931.  In an unassuming short entry for its ‘Dictionnaire’, Bataille presents the informe emphatically not as a system or a structure, but as ‘un terme servant à déclasser’; yet neither the disruptive impulse of the 'Dictionnaire', nor the more recent exhibitions it has generated, can avoid a measure of taxonomic organisation (L'Informe: mode d'emploi, 1996; Undercover Surrealism, 2006). In the realm of poetry, free verse has eroded the boundaries of the poetic, but its freedom from formal constraints is limited too; as Jay Parini (2008) contends, ‘formless poetry does not really exist, as poets inevitably create patterns in language that replicate forms of experience.’  Through  a small number of case studies, this chapter will consider the legacy of Bataille’s definition while assessing the ongoing tension between form and its undoing in textual and visual art of the twenty-first century.

Keywords:   Form, Formless, Poetry, Georges Bataille, Informe, Caroline Bergvall

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