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Dream, Creativity, and Madness in Nineteenth-Century France$
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Tony James

Print publication date: 1995

Print ISBN-13: 9780198151883

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198151883.001.0001

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Rimbaud: ‘Simple Hallucination’ and the Otherness of Self

Rimbaud: ‘Simple Hallucination’ and the Otherness of Self

(p.250) 21 Rimbaud: ‘Simple Hallucination’ and the Otherness of Self
Dream, Creativity, and Madness in Nineteenth-Century France

Tony James

Oxford University Press

Rimbaud claimed that his poetry originated from a realm of psychic experience which was not that of everyday, concrete perception. He wrote in a condensed and elliptical style with striking images and equally striking juxtapositions. Whether in poetry or in prose, the phraseology often has a terseness which contrasts with the more ample periods of earlier poets, like Hugo, or novelists like Flaubert. The poetry, in consequence, is not easy to analyse. Although paraphrasing is a misleading device to use with any poetry, it can at least give the appearance of helping to understand what a poem by Hugo or Theophile Gautier is about. With Rimbaud, paraphrasing is well-nigh impossible. This chapter first shows how Rimbaud consciously disturbed sense-perception in order to become a seer. It then focuses on the different voices to be heard in Une saison en enfer.

Keywords:   Rimbaud, poetry, sense-perception, Une saison en enfer

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