Relinquishing Poetic Form as a Means of Musical Redemption in Gabriel Fauré’s La Chanson d’Éve


"I propose that van Lerberghe's free verse granted Fauré a greater degree of musical potency, better allowing him to portray the figure of Éve as an authentic woman. As if to redeem the loss of classical poetic form, Fauré recuperates a sense of divine order in the very human character of Éve, without regard to the more common portrayal of her as Adam's weak and guileless subordinate. By tracing the development of free verse within the French canon and then its interaction with the mélodie within La chanson d'Éve, I will first outline the possible benefits or drawbacks of Fauré's choice to set van Lerberghe's poetry. Next, I will examine the ways in which Fauré might have explicitly taken advantage of this lack of syllabic meter in 'Paradis' to purvey even more than an intuitive speech-like contour or visual imagery, approaching a secondary interpretation of Éve's relationship with God and her role in the newly created Eden. Ultimately, I will contest the claims by Chalupt, Hirsbrunner, and Porter that Fauré was insensitive to the spirit of poetry in his musical settings. Using 'Paradis' as a principal point of departure, this essay will demonstrate how Fauré wielded van Lerberghe's free verse to achieve an engaged and poetically attuned musical manifestation of the tableaux as his contribution to the evolution of the mélodie."

The full text of this essay is available to ALS subscribers

Please sign in to access this article and the rest of our archive.

Published 1 June 2014 in Volume 29 No. 1-2. Subjects: Faure, Gabriel, French Literature and writers, Interdisciplinary studies, Music.

Cite as: Childs, Emma. ‘Relinquishing Poetic Form as a Means of Musical Redemption in Gabriel Fauré’s La Chanson d’Éve.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 29, no. 1-2, 2014, doi: 10.20314/als.9b40175cd5.