Constraint of the Month

The constraint of the month over at Oulipo.net is the villanelle. It's a reminder that Oulipians are formalists, though in a profound and serious way that the current gang of neoformalists just doesn't get.

You can read a Babelfish translation of the page to get the gist of the historical note at the end. And, as the note points out, the best known villanelle in English is Dylan Thomas's "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night."

The first time I was aware of the form was a summer spent reading Joyce (everything except Finnegan's Wake). I remember coming across Stephen Daedulus's villanelle in Portrait of the Artist and being unimpressed. What did impress me at the time was Stephen's astounding mixture of desire, arrogance, uncertainty, and self-loathing—things I could immediately recognize in myself.


Post a Comment

<< Home