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Rhetorics of transformation in Rimbaud's Illuminations.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>04/2010
<mark>Journal</mark>Dix-Neuf
Issue number1
Volume14
Number of pages13
Pages (from-to)20-32
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

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.