Representations of the End in French Literature and Culture
Edited By Leona Archer and Alex Stuart
Part 2 1800-1945
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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