'The Reinvention of Time and Space in Rimbaud's Illuminations'

Gerald Macklin

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    This paper looks at how Rimbaud adopts radical new positions in relation to time and space in the Illuminations. He wishes to escape the dictatorship of the clock and familiar geographical boundaries and develops a technique of spatio-temporal synthesis across many of the prose poms. So we find temporal elasticity and spatial universality and the compendium of figures in 'Parade' and the great inventories of the 'Villes' poems illustrate these features handsomely. Time becomes protean and Rimbaud moves easily across spatial and temporal boundaries in a great unfiying and synthesizing vision. His is a universal intelligence stretching beyongd familair castegories and boundarie sand this is nowhere better seen than in the formulae of 'Génie' and the widespread use of "tous" and "toutes" across the illuminations. A text such as 'Promontoire' shows geographical sysnthesis at work every bit as powerfully as 'Génie' illustratres temporal synthesis. The spectacular finales evoking elemental ferment are linked to this urge to transcend recognizable time and space and the poet's regular use of oxymora and the reconciliation of opposites both relate to his definition of a new type of modernity.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)60-75
    JournalNottingham French Studies
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1996


    • time
    • space
    • synthesis


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