Seth Whidden

Andrew W. Mellon Regional Fellow in the Humanities

20062007 Forum on Travel

Seth Whidden

Assistant Professor, French, Villanova University

Rimbaud’s Voyages: Real and Imagined

The poetic, imagined voyages that underpin much of Rimbaud’s poetry, and the real, lived voyages that marked his life after he left poetry and Europe are deeply influenced by changing notions of time and space throughout the 19th century. Drawing on the work of others on the influence of technological advancements in 19th-century French fiction and the implications for travel at the beginning of the modern era is clear: speeding up transportation allows for travel and communication at greater distances, making the world smaller and adding realism to the fictional narratives of the faraway. Dr. Whidden will extend this discussion to poetry, where little work has been done on the intersections between the Orient, that great imagined locus of travel, and technology’s irrevocable changes on the French landscape. Specifically, how did the changing face of spatial relations in Rimbaud’s world play out in thematic and formal aspects of his poetry?