'Rimbaud's 'Trois contes''

Gerald Macklin

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    1 Citation (Scopus)


    This paper examines three poems from Rimbaud's Illuminations - 'Conte', 'Royauté' and 'Aube' - in terms of how the poet uses the tale as the basis for some of his prose poems. The article considers how these poems comply with the conventions of the tale as a genre and how they deviate from it. The poems present figures from myth and legend, elements of the structure of the traditional fairy-tale and an ironical attitude to the "happy ending". Often, Rimbaud sets up an appraently conventional narrative only to disrupt or truncate his story and he also use his three poem-tales to state or suggest certain philosophical messages about life, love, knowledge. In 'Conte' we find a disruption of the linear narrative and experimentation with endings. In 'Royauté' we see an intensive and brief tale and a deflation of euphoria. Finally in 'Aube' there is a brief moment of trascendence followed by the tragic fall. These poems seem to follow a pattern of introduction, climax and anti-climax and eventually Rimbaud seems to withdraw from the "conte" model that the poems initially seem to espouse. The three texts are thus ironic, ludic and experimental in how they use the genre of the tale on which they are clearly modelled.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)10-12
    JournalFrench Studies Bulletin
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1987

    Bibliographical note

    Reference text: P.Hamon 'Narrativité et lisibilité. Essai d'un texte de Rimbaud.', POETIQUE, 40, 1979, pp. 453-464

    Arthur Rimbaud Illuminations, edited by Nick Osmond, The Athlone Press, London, 1976


    • prose poem
    • tale
    • fairy-tale
    • irony


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