'Madness and Modernity in Rimbaud's Une Saison en enfer'

Gerald M Macklin

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    Abstract

    This paper sets out to examine in detail the structure and internal development of Une Saison en enfer, Arthur Rimbaud's diary composed in prose poetry. The paper argues that the collection articulates the experience of madness as an integral part of the author's sojourn in a psychological Hades. At the same time it sees a journey towards a personal definition and a sense of modernity as the means by which the victim ultimately exctracts himself from his hell. Drawing on some key work on Une Saison en enfer by important Rimbaldians, the article seeks to illuminate and explain the central artistic tension in the collection between assertiveness and hesitation, certainty and doubt. Placing Rimbaud in the context of other writers who have explored alternative visions of Hell, the paper examines Rimbaud's engagement with and rejection of traditional Western systems of belief and his fascination with oriental philosophies. The statement "il faut être absolument moderne" thus represents a culmination, a point of arrival, an emergence from hell.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)379-394
    JournalNeophilologus
    Volume95
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2011

    Bibliographical note

    Reference text: S Bernard and A Guyaux (eds.) Rimbaud:Oeuvres, Paris, Garnier, 1981

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    J-P Richard Poésie et profondeur, Paris, Editions du Seuil, 1995

    Keywords

    • hell modernity madness diary certainty doubt

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