The Modernist Bestiary

Translating Animals and the Arts through Guillaume Apollinaire, Raoul Dufy and Graham Sutherland

Edited by Sarah Kay and Timothy Mathews

What is this?

The Modernist Bestiary centres on Le Bestiaire ou Cortège d’Orphée (1911), a multimedia collaborative work by French-Polish poet Guillaume Apollinaire and French artist Raoul Dufy, and its homonym, The Bestiary or Procession of Orpheus (1979), by British artist Graham Sutherland. Rather than reconstructing the lineage of these two compositions, the book uncovers the aesthetic and intellectual processes involved that operate in different times, places and media. The Apollinaire and Dufy Bestiary is an open-ended collaboration, a feature that Sutherland develops in his re-visiting, and this book shows how these neglected works are caught up in many-faceted networks of traditions and genres. These include Orphic poetry from the past, contemporary musical settings, and bestiary writing from its origins to the present. The nature of productive dialogue between thought and art, and the refracted light they throw on each other are explored in each of the pieces in the book, and the aesthetic experience emerges as generative rather than reductive or complacent.

The contributors’ encounters with these works take the form of poetry and essays, all moving freely between different disciplines and practices, humanistic and posthumanist critical dimensions, as well as different animals and art forms. They draw on disciplines ranging from music, art history, translation, Classical poetry and French poetry, and are nurtured by approaches including phenomenology, cultural studies, sound studies, and critical animal studies. Collectively the book shows that the aesthetic encounter, by nature affective, is by nature also interdisciplinary and motivating, and that it spurs the critical in addressing the complex issues of 'humananimality'.

Sarah Kay teaches French, Comparative Literature and Medieval Studies at New York University. A former Fellow of the British Academy, she has written widely on medieval texts across genres and languages, particularly on poetry and its connections with philosophy and literary theory. Her most recent books are Animal Skins and the Reading Self in Medieval Latin and French Bestiaries and Philology’s Vomit: An Essay on the Immortality and Corporeality of Texts (both 2017). Her current work is on medieval song, from Aristotle to opera.

Timothy Mathews is Emeritus Professor of French and Comparative Criticism, UCL. In his writing and translating he explores what relating to art can tell us about relating to people. His interests include relations of literary and visual art, translation and creative critical writing. He has written on many modern artists and writers, notably Apollinaire. His most recent monograph is Alberto Giacometti: the Art of Relation (2013). He is currently completing a book of creative critical 'chronicles', and preparing translations of Guillaume Apollinaire and Roland Barthes. He is a member of the Academy of Europe and Officier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques.

Headpiece: Oblique and prolonged

Timothy Mathews

1. Graham Sutherland The Bestiary or Procession of Orpheus: An introduction

Dawn Ades

2. The Voice of Light: Nature and revelation in The Bestiary, or Procession of Orpheus

Sarah Kay

3. Ombre terreuse: Shades of meaning in Vergil, Ovid and Apollinaire

Sarah Spence

4.Apollinaire’s Octosyllabic Quatrain, Translation and Zoopoetics

Clive Scott

5. Animals on Parade: Collecting sounds for l’histoire naturelle of modern music

Rachel Mundy

6. Beasts of Flesh and Steel: The post-industrial bestiaries of Apollinaire, Dufy and Sutherland

Matthew Senior

7. How is Orpheus honoured? Procession, association and loss

Timothy Mathews

Notes Towards A Hybrid Bestiary: Out of Apollinaire, Sutherland and others

 George Szirtes


Sarah Kay


'Enacting in multiple compelling ways the mobility and relationality at the heart of its concerns, this collection makes a major contribution to the various fields into which it intervenes, including modernist studies, translation studies, critical animal studies, and research into intermedial transmission, especially between text and image and text and music.’ - Martin Crowley, University of Cambridge


Format: Open Access PDF

49 colour illustrations

Copyright: © 2020

ISBN: 9781787351516

Publication: June 08, 2020

Series: Comparative Literature and Culture

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