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Research at St Andrews

David Elwyn Evans


David Elwyn Evans
Postal address:
School of Modern Languages
Buchanan Building, Union St
St Andrews
United Kingdom


Direct phone: +44 (0)1334 463665

Research overview

My main research examines the theory and practice of poetic rhythm from 1840 to 1898, and my first monograph explores these issues in the work of Baudelaire, Rimbaud and Mallarme (Rhythm, Illusion and the Poetic Idea, Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2004). As well as proposing innovative new methodologies for the technical analysis of versification, this study proposes new theoretical frameworks for reading both prose poetry and free verse. By suggesting that the problematization of rhythm is central to the poetry of French modernity, the monograph re-assesses our ideas on the changing nature of poetry during its most exciting period of development.

My work also deals with the central role played by the musical metaphor and musical terms (rhythm, harmony, melody) in the poetry of this period, and alongside these investigations I am investigating song settings of these texts by composers such as Debussy.

I am currently preparing a second monograph on the topic of rhythm and musicality in the work of Theodore de Banville, encompassing themes such as parody and haunting. This includes a complete diachronic survey of rhythm and rhyme across his seventeen volumes of verse (1842-1892), which will be interpreted in the light of his theoretical, journalistic and epistolary writings on rhythm and poetry.

Finally, I have published two essays and am preparing a third on the poetry of Michel Houellebecq, which is often eclipsed by the critical attention devoted to his novels. I am particularly interested in the ways in which the poet positions himself between contemporary life and the weight of the French poetic canon, and the variety of forms he employs, from metrical verse to 'vers libre' and prose.

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