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Visions of Apocalypse

Representations of the End in French Literature and Culture

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Edited By Leona Archer and Alex Stuart

Picturing the end of the world is one of the most enduring of cultural practices. The ways in which people of different historical periods conceive of this endpoint reveals a great deal about their imagination and philosophical horizons. This groundbreaking collection of essays offers an overview of the Apocalyptic imagination as it presents itself in French literature and culture from the thirteenth century to the present day. The contributors analyse material as diverse as medieval French biblical commentaries and twenty-first-century science fiction, taking in established canonical authors alongside contemporary figures and less well-known writers. The book also considers a vast range of other subject matter, including horror films, absurdist drama, critical theory, medieval manuscript illuminations and seventeenth-century theology. Moving from the sacred to the profane, the sublime to the obscene, the divine to the post-human, the volume opens up more than 750 years of French Apocalypticism to critical scrutiny.

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Part 2 1800-1945

Extract

Part 2 1800–1945 Michel Arouimi1 Rimbaud’s Apocalypse: Founding Principles and Literary Repercussions (Bosco, Ramuz) As the works of Rimbaud, Henri Bosco and Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz attest (and I will clarify the connection between these three authors pres- ently), the Apocalypse is a subject of literary obsession, and its inf luence runs far deeper than any explicit references made to it. This inf luence is due, in the first instance, to spiritual reasons associated with the message of this biblical book which constitutes a lesson concerning civilization’s failure as it cedes to desires dictated by egotism and by the death-bringing duality of which the Beast (queen of the false disguise) may be seen to be the incarnation. Assigned a prophetic and scriptural mission, these poets are linked to John of Patmos through their vocation (which, by their own admission, was quasi-messianic). But their interest in the Apocalypse is also linked to another, equally intriguing factor: the internal structure of the Apocalypse (from the symmetrical ef fects against whose background the protagonists emerge to the lyrical virtues of its style) seems to have presented itself as a model for these poet-architects, more or less conscious of appeasing – in the formal textual unity of their works, and through a particular treatment of the subject matter – a nameless torment, a division of one’s being whose inspirational function they feel, painfully, in their poetic calling. Might the Apocalypse, in form as well as content, not be a sacred, anticipated response to an ancient question which...

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