Movement and Montage in André Chénier’s "Ode à Versailles" (1793)

David McCallam

Abstract


In 1793, poet and journalist André Chénier fled Paris for Versailles for fear of being persecuted for his public criticisms of the Jacobins. There, at the start of the revolutionary Terror, he composed his “Ode à Versailles.” This article analyses the poem’s form while noting the effects of historical and philosophical contexts on the movement of the verse. The representation of time is explored in the form of a montage, as the term is defined by the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben. What results is a work of poetry that tells of the revolutionary upheavals in France in its very movement away from them. Caught between political and poetic states, Chénier’s “Ode à Versailles” stands as the insistent expression of an affective and poetic resistance to Jacobin Revolution.

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