'Telling Tales - Narrative Patterns in Rimbaud's 'Conte', 'Royauté' and 'Aube''

Gerald M Macklin

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    This article looks in detail at three poems from Rimbaud's ILLUMINATIONS which illustrate his predilection for constructing prose poems on the basis of the fairy tale genre. In the process he both complies with and deviates from the norms of the genre such as happy endings, fairy tale characters, once upon a time introductions and so on. The study draws upon analyses conducted by other Rimbaud scholars on 'Conte', 'Royauté' and 'Aube' and examines each of the three texts in turn. It looks at thematic content but, more significantly, issues of technical importance and poetic composition. Thus, the study of 'Conte' considers the Prince and Génie as fairy tale protagonists; the multiplicity of endings in the poem; the role of parody; the moral or message in the isolated last line; and the dislocation of narrative. In the case of 'Royauté' the paper again looks at royal personages; the truncated nature of the narrative; the theme of thwarted idealism and perfectionism; the introduction and finale; the recurring pattern of climax and anti-climax in the poem-tale. As for 'Aube', the paper again looks at switching lines of narrative; the characters of the goddess and the boy; the mysteries of the first person identity; the royal setting; the disruption of expectations concerning the fairy-tale genre. In summary, the paper highlights Rimbaud's transgressions against the genre and how he uses these to develop a particular type of prose poem.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)44-63
    JournalOrbis Litterarum
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Feb 2011

    Bibliographical note

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    • fairytale
    • parody
    • prose poem
    • narrative
    • poetic structure


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