UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Rimbaud et le monde exterieur Kohaupt, Christina


The contention of this thesis is that poet and man are fused in Rimbaud and that his poetry, at all stages, corresponds to an existential and a spiritual quest. This study proposes to gain access to Rimbaud's poetry and mental universe through an examination of his descriptions. His vision of the outside world will be investigated in three stages. The -first chapter examines the image o-f man and of the social, political, religious, and poetic stereotypes predominant in France in the 1870s. Rimbaud's early poetry reflects the adolescent's rebellion against restrictions imposed on the individual by established institutions. The style is realistic, often satirical, and is a rejection of the bourgeois and his habits. In addition, we find a search for personal values expressed with a remarkable sensitivity towards the poor, the children, and Nature, which Rimbaud evokes in new and astonishing images. In his continuing search for a new interpretation of life, the poet, confronted with the unknown, discovers that "Je est un autre", a concept which opens his eyes to a new order of things. The second chapter deals with Rimbaud's vision of Nature and of objects. While people often resemble the object, Nature and even things are alive. The question of spirit in matter reveals itself as both a philosophical and a poetic-aesthetic problem. Rimbaud uses various techniques to imply that nature and the object are morally and spiritually superior to man because they are unconcerned with the ethics of idealism. His realism becomes sur—realist or visionary, especially through the extensive use of metaphor and a microscopic attention to detail. In his search for neutrality, and clear vision, Rimbaud examines objects from the point of view of objects. His "poetizing" of the material environment communicates an intensification of consciousness in contrast to the materialism of the time. The third chapter considers certain characteristics of Rimbaud's later poetry and suggests that his verbal expression is an existential, spiritual, and above all literary "engagement". To correspond with his new vision of reality, Rimbaud creates a new language. The destruction of linguistic cliches and poetic tradition leads to a new consciousness of the "immediate" and to a poetry of "depassement". It accepts as normal an existence of becoming and an ever changing reality. The refusal of the traditional linear perspective leads Rimbaud to express a world full of objects and words but without man. Linguistic and conceptual fusions, free flow of consciousness and the element of chance in poetic creation recreate the unlimited reality of the unconscious, freed from the rational. However, Rimbaud also produces structures that allow more than a compromise between the rational and the irrational. They place the wild and uncontrolled flow of Nature into an aesthetic and meaningful frame. One of the first to use techniques such as "stream" of consciousness, Rimbaud is clearly a forerunner of surrealist poetry. Moreover, his use of objects and words, -freed from the human perspective, makes him one of the first modern poets. The first chapter presents Rimbaud chiefly as the young exuberant rebel who criticizes his time through satire but remains loyal to traditional form. The second chapter concentrates on the visionary whose spiritual hunger expresses itself mainly in the content of his richly evocative images. Finally, the third chapter draws some conclusions on Rimbaud's impact on modern poetry.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.