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Poetry, Politics, and the Body in RimbaudLyrical Material$
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Robert St. Clair

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198826583

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198826583.001.0001

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(Diagnostic) Impoverished Bodies

(Diagnostic) Impoverished Bodies

“Les Effarés” and the Misery of the Nineteenth-Century Lyric

2 (Diagnostic) Impoverished Bodies
Poetry, Politics, and the Body in Rimbaud

Robert St. Clair

Oxford University Press

Rimbaud’s “Impoverished Bodies” ask us to grapple with a core question: “what does poverty tell us about the body, and what does it do to its relations to other bodies?” Here, we scrutinize the representation of marginalized and impoverished figures in the nineteenth-century poetic and political imaginary (Marx, Hegel, Thiers, Hugo, Mallarmé, Coppée, Baudelaire) and show how the problem of poverty draws our attention to the root exposure, vulnerability, and sociality of the body. Paying particular attention to a surprisingly important poem in the Rimbaldian corpus, “Les Effarés,” we find Rimbaud prevailing upon laughter as a form of ideological critique, as a way of contesting dominant discourses on poverty which mask an inhuman indifference to human suffering behind the self-congratulatory appearances of bourgeois humanism.

Keywords:   misérabilisme, parody, poverty (discourses of), violence, Paris Commune, laughter, Baudelaire, Hugo, Marx, Mallarmé

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