Winged Things: Insects and Birds as Flying Messengers in Céline Arnauld’s Poetry

Ruth Hemus, Kathryn Brown (Editor), Erica O'Neill (Editor)

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The metropolis and the machine are the epitome of modernity in the avant-garde but in the interstices of the cityscape the natural world persists. In the disrupted Dada poems of Céline Arnauld, from the 1920s through to the 1940s, collisions between the man-made and natural environment produce sparks of lyrical beauty and of anxiety. The skyline is punctuated both by aeroplanes and birds; the roar of trains and buzz of insects clash in soundscapes. From wasps to doves, Arnauld’s winged things frequent and transcend the anthropocentric environment. Unbound by man-made borders, they range across temporal and spatial environments, the real and imaginary. This essay considers how Arnauld used her flying messengers to negotiate complex experiences and ecologies of modernity. Albeit mapped to temporal moments in the twentieth century, it emerges that her points of enquiry and tensions – from migration to war, freedom to precarity – are startlingly relevant one hundred years later.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-192
Number of pages15
JournalNottingham French Studies
Issue number2
Early online date8 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2023


  • Dada
  • Arnauld

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