'Prayer and Parody in Rimbaud's 'Dévotion''

Gerald Macklin

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    This paper offers a detailed reading of Rimbaud's "obscure" prose pom 'Dévotion' from the Illuminations. The reading is based on the central principle that the text is modelled on the form of devotional prayer, a model that Rimbaud adopts only to parody it and transgress against it. The litany is the form adopted by Rimbaud in 'Dévotion' and close inspection of the poem shows that he plays with the litanical format and finally subverts its laws to construct something quite different. The poem violates the conventions of its adopted form even though in its early stages it seems to adhere quite faithfully to an established pattern. There is a sense of defamiliarization and dépaysement as the reader encounters strange female figures to whom dedications are made in a highly esoteric spiritual world of the poet's own invention. The odd term "Baou" is given attention as is the change of tone from the reverential to the ironic and desultory in mid-poem. The poem may be seen as a ludic text where Rimbaud experiments with the idea of poem as prayer and in its closing stages, as is so often the case in Rimbaud's prose poems, we appear to move towards something more authentic and vital. The laconic and ambiguous closing lines capture a sense of a new and personal spirituality far removed from traditional forms of prayer.
    LanguageEnglish
    Pages281-282
    JournalFrench Studies
    VolumeLI
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1997

    Fingerprint

    satire
    spirituality
    invention
    writer
    Law
    experiment
    Devotion
    Parody
    Poem
    Prayer

    Keywords

    • prayer
    • parody
    • prose poem
    • finale
    • structure

    Cite this

    Macklin, G. (1997). 'Prayer and Parody in Rimbaud's 'Dévotion''. French Studies, LI(3), 281-282.
    Macklin, Gerald. / 'Prayer and Parody in Rimbaud's 'Dévotion''. In: French Studies. 1997 ; Vol. LI, No. 3. pp. 281-282.
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    abstract = "This paper offers a detailed reading of Rimbaud's {"}obscure{"} prose pom 'D{\'e}votion' from the Illuminations. The reading is based on the central principle that the text is modelled on the form of devotional prayer, a model that Rimbaud adopts only to parody it and transgress against it. The litany is the form adopted by Rimbaud in 'D{\'e}votion' and close inspection of the poem shows that he plays with the litanical format and finally subverts its laws to construct something quite different. The poem violates the conventions of its adopted form even though in its early stages it seems to adhere quite faithfully to an established pattern. There is a sense of defamiliarization and d{\'e}paysement as the reader encounters strange female figures to whom dedications are made in a highly esoteric spiritual world of the poet's own invention. The odd term {"}Baou{"} is given attention as is the change of tone from the reverential to the ironic and desultory in mid-poem. The poem may be seen as a ludic text where Rimbaud experiments with the idea of poem as prayer and in its closing stages, as is so often the case in Rimbaud's prose poems, we appear to move towards something more authentic and vital. The laconic and ambiguous closing lines capture a sense of a new and personal spirituality far removed from traditional forms of prayer.",
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    note = "Reference text: Rimbaud Oeuvres, {\'e}dition de S.Bernard et A. Guyaux, Classiques Garnier, Paris, 1987 A. Breton 'Flgrant d{\'e}lit' in La Clef des champs, Jean-Jacques Pauvert, Paris, 1967 Arthur Rimbaud Illuminations, edited by N.Osmond, Athlone French Poets, The Athlone press, London, 1976 N.wing Present Appearances: Aspec s of Poetic Structure, Romance Monographs, University, Mississippi, 1974 S.Briet 'La Bible dans l'oeuvre de Rimbaud', Etudes rimbaldiennes, I, edited by Pierre Petitfils, Lettres Modernes, Paris, 1969, pp.87-129 F. Musso Rimbaud, Editions Pierre Charron,Paris, 1972 G.M.Macklin 'Perspectives on the Role of Punctuation in Rimbaud's Illuminations', JOURNAL OF EUROPEAN STUDIES, vol.20, 1990, pp.59-72 R.Little 'Light on Rimbaud's 'Baou'' ('D{\'e}votion') FRENCH STUDIES BULLETIN, vol.10, spring 1984, pp.3-7 Vrlaine Oeuvres po{\'e}tiques, {\'e}dition de Jacques Robichez, Garnier, Paris, 1969 A.Kittang Discours et jeu: Essai d'analyse des textes d'Arthur Rimbaud, Bergen Universitets Forlaget/Presses Universitaires de Grenoble, Bergen and Grenoble, 1975 Baudelaire, Oeuvres compl{\`e}tes I, texte {\'e}tabli, pr{\'e}sent{\'e} et annot{\'e} par Claude Pichois, Gallimard, Pl{\'e}aide, Paris, 1975 P.Lapeyre Le Vertige de Rimbaud: Cl{\'e} d'une perception po{\'e}tique, Editions de la Baconni{\`e}re, Neuch{\^a}tel, 1981 S.Murphy Le Premier Rimbaud ou l'apprentissage de la subversion, Editions du CNRS, Presses Universitaires de Lyon, Paris and Lyon, 1990 A.Guyaux Po{\'e}tique du fragment: Essai sur les Illuminations de Rimbaud, Editions de la Baconni{\`e}re, Neuch{\^a}tel, 1985 Rimbaud, Illuminations, edited by Albert Py, Droz, Geneva, 1967 J.Lawler Rimbaud's Theatre of the Self, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass/London, 1992 S.Mallarm{\'e} Po{\'e}sies, Gallimard, Paris, 1952",
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    Macklin, G 1997, ''Prayer and Parody in Rimbaud's 'Dévotion''', French Studies, vol. LI, no. 3, pp. 281-282.

    'Prayer and Parody in Rimbaud's 'Dévotion''. / Macklin, Gerald.

    In: French Studies, Vol. LI, No. 3, 1997, p. 281-282.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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