Modernist Song
The Poetry of Tristan Tzara

Stephen Forcer

Legenda (General Series)


17 January 2006  •  156pp

ISBN: 978-1-904713-14-2 (hardback)  •  RRP £80, $110, €95


While Tristan Tzara (1896-1963) is immediately recognisable as a figure within Dada and Surrealism, he has been almost entirely forgotten as a writer of verse. Seeking to reposition Tzara as a major European poet in his own right, Forcer's study represents the first book-length investigation of Tzara's life in poetry, which continued for nearly forty years after the Sept manifestes Dada. Tzara emerges as a powerful but hitherto neglected force within a French poetic tradition at present dominated by writers such as Apollinaire, Breton and Aragon.

Stephen Forcer is a Lecturer in French at the University of Birmingham.


  • ‘Writing with evident pleasure, Forcer starts from an accessible premiss to go on to explore exciting new ground, teasing out a surprising array of readings and styles... Indeed, as Forcer demonstrates that Tzara’s poetry is a rich and diverse body of work in which classic avant-garde tropes feature alongside more established poetic practices and vocabulary, he clearly exposes both the critical inadequacy of Tzara's epithet as the "Father of Dada" and, on a more general level, the need for a much more inclusive historiography of avant-garde creativity. All of which makes this powerfully argued book a most welcome and valuable publication.’ — Jo Langley, Modern Language Review 104.2, April 2009, 575-76 (full text online)
  • ‘Stephen Forcer's book impresses in that it does not use the myth [of Dada] as a ready-made prop with which to proclaim its subject's importance... What distinguishes Modernist Song, above all, is Forcer's sustained and precise analysis of selected poems, his own interrogations of signifying play, which draw on a range of theoretical tools and critical references.’ — Ruth Hemus, French Studies 492-93

Bibliography entry:

Forcer, Stephen, Modernist Song: The Poetry of Tristan Tzara (Legenda, 2006)

First footnote reference: 35 Stephen Forcer, Modernist Song: The Poetry of Tristan Tzara (Legenda, 2006), p. 21.

Subsequent footnote reference: 37 Forcer, p. 47.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

Bibliography entry:

Forcer, Stephen. 2006. Modernist Song: The Poetry of Tristan Tzara (Legenda)

Example citation: ‘A quotation occurring on page 21 of this work’ (Forcer 2006: 21).

Example footnote reference: 35 Forcer 2006: 21.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

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