Rhetorics of transformation in Rimbaud’s Illuminations

Kerr, G. (2010) Rhetorics of transformation in Rimbaud’s Illuminations. Dix-Neuf, 14(1), pp. 20-32. (doi: 10.1179/147873110X12669226709990)

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This article considers the figure of the poet as described in the second of Rimbaud’s lettres du voyant as a ‘multiplicateur de progrès’. The poetic ‘multiplication’ to which Rimbaud refers is not intended to reflect a calculated conduct, but to suggest an uncontainable, multidirectional activity that is at variance with the uniform spatio-temporal patterns of ‘Progress’. Rimbaud’s Illuminations consistently reappropriate, fragment and redeploy a progressive or utopian rhetoric common to many nineteenth-century popular movements and doctrines of social reform. For Rimbaud, this rhetoric of social transformation holds a peculiar potential to solicit an economy of residual energies and the latent forces of the collectivity. It thus serves an important constitutive function in the Rimbaldian prose poem, projecting a highly suggestive vision of physical and social interaction and a miscellany of slogans, catchwords and images of social harmony that Rimbaud fragments and redeploys to catalyze the processes of imaginative ferment.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Article based on a presentation entitled 'Rimbaud's Illuminations and the 'multiplicateur de progrès'' which co-won the prize for best postgraduate paper at the conference of the Society of Dix-Neuviémistes, University of Bristol, March 2009
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Kerr, Dr Greg
Authors: Kerr, G.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Modern Languages and Cultures > French
Journal Name:Dix-Neuf
Publisher:Maney Publishing
ISSN (Online):1478-7318

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