'From Ennui to Extinction in Rimbaud's 'Nocturne vulgaire''

Gerald M Macklin

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This article examines in deatil Rimbaud's poem 'Nocturne vulgaire' from the collection the Illuminations. The paper concerns itself with the structural development of the poem, tracing its evolution from a failed imaginative journey of the self to a more satisfying one. Essentially, the study argues that the text reinvents itself and ultimately represents not one poem , but two - a phenomenon seen passim in the Illuminations. 'Métropolitain', 'Angoisse', 'Dévotion' and 'Soir historique' all illustrate this patterning. Close reference is made to how 'Nocturne vulgaire' adopts and deviates from Alfred de Vigny's poem 'La Maison du berger'. The paper focuses on the dramatic finale in the poem, the use of elemental imagery and the idea of catastrophe. Finally, the article considers the indebtedness of the piece to both music and painting and asks in what ways the Rimbaldian nocturne redefines these sources of inspiration.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)239-254
    JournalOrbis Litterarum
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2001

    Bibliographical note

    Reference text: J-P Richard Poésie et profondeur, Editions du Seuil, Paris, 1955

    G. Macklin 'Patterns of Elemental Imagery in Rimbaud's Illuminations', NOTTINGHAM FRENCH STUDIES, vol 31, no 1 spring 1992, pp. 22-36

    A Guyaux Poétique du fragment. Essai sur les Illuminations de Rimbaud, Editions de la Baconnière, Neuchâtel, 1985

    Arthur Rimbaud, Illuminations ed. Nick Osmond, Athlone French Poets, The Athlone Press, London, 1976

    R Little Rimbaud, Illuminations, Critical Guides to French Texts, no.29, Grant and Cutler, London, 1983

    Rimbaud Oeuvres, ed. Suzanne Bernard et André Guyaux, Classiques Garnier, Paris, 1987

    P. Broome 'From vision to catastrophe in Rimbaud's Illuminations', FORUM FOR MODERN LANGUAGE STUDIES, vol.15, no.4, October 1979, pp. 361-379

    G.Macklin 'Rimbaud's 'Barbare': The Floating and Reveberating Text', NEOPHILOLOGUS, vol.80, 1996, pp. 41-52

    G. Macklin 'Perspectives on the Role of Punctuation in Rimbaud's Illuminations', JOURNAL OF EUROPEAN STUDIES, vol.20, 1990, pp. 59-72

    David Scott 'Rimbaud and Boucher: 'Fête d'hiver', JOURNAL OF EUROPEAN STUDIES, vol. ix, 1979, pp. 185-195


    • prose poem
    • journey
    • finale
    • catastrophe
    • nocturne


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