La muse géomètre. L'épopée dans l'Europe du XVIIIe siècle

Abstract : Considering an epic corpus from 18th-century France, England, Poland and Denmark, the epic genre can be said to exist in the 18th century in several forms. (1) As the theoretical object of speculative poetics (the main model of which is Boileau's Art Poétique). (2) As heroic epics, such as Voltaire's Henriade, which may enjoy success but are whose shortcomings are systematically pointed out by critics. (3) As comic epics (heavily influenced by Boileau's Lutrin), which achieve much greater success than their heroic counterparts both in the 18th century and today: Pope's Rape of the Lock, Ludvig Holberg's Peder Paars, Ignacy Krasicki's Myszeis. Can the epic genre then only survive through comic degradation? Is heroic poetry so smothered by speculative rules of art that it can only survive when burlesque subversion relaxes them?Whereas theoretical over-thinking has been, since the late 17th century, the go-to explanation for the many failures of early modern epic poetry, it seems that heroicomic poetry is actually a paragon of poetic regularity in the 18th century. Far from being asphyxiated by its rules, the epic genre as theorized and practiced by men of letters admirative of French neoclassicism such as Alexander Pope, Ludvig Holberg, Charles Batteux, Ignacy Krasicki or F. X. Dmochowski is both regular and very much alive. An epic is even more efficient the better it fits within a neoclassical framework heavily based on 18th-century reinterpretations of Aristotle's Poetics. To formulate this framework amounts to understanding "classical readability", a set of aesthetic and normative expectations within which poetic rules are not empty slogans but describe actual meaningful poetic techniques.This dissertation examines the implications of this idea with respect to the reception of early modern texts in the 18th century (I), how the opening lines of epic poems are seen to program the bulk of the work (II), the representation of the inspiration and social role of the epic poet (III), epic fiction (the "fable", IV), and the composition of the epic text itself (V). The aforementioned English, Danish and Polish epics are testaments to the transformations of neoclassical poetics and poetry through 18th-century Europe, whereas Voltaire's ambitious attempt at a reform of the neoclassical normative doctrine shows that, in contrast to some of his contemporaries, he failed to perceive its poetic conductivity.
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Dimitri Garncarzyk. La muse géomètre. L'épopée dans l'Europe du XVIIIe siècle. Littératures. Université Sorbonne Paris Cité, 2018. Français. ⟨NNT : 2018USPCA100⟩. ⟨tel-02147397⟩

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