Le Moderne absolu? Rimbaud et la contre-modernité

Though Arthur Rimbaud’s “modernity” can hardly be seriously questioned, the contours and stakes of that aesthetic posture continue to raise questions: is there room for considering him, as Antoine Compagnon does, an “anti-modern”? Is this theoretically any different from reading the poet as a figure of critical “counter-modernity”? Focusing on the historical conjuncture of the poet’s work and the events of the année terrible, this article’s point of departure is Rimbaud’s oft-misunderstood and, as Henri Meschonnic first pointed up, deeply ironic boutade from Une Saison en enfer, “Il faut être absolument moderne,” discerning in it, and in the poetic production of 1870–1871, an oppositional ethos of counter-modernism that resists the “creative destruction” of the present in the name of a distinctly modern, if not revolutionary, political aesthetics.

St. Clair, Robert
Volume 2011-12 Spring-Summer; 40.(3-4): 307-326