The Alchemy of the Word  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

"The Alchemy of the Word"[1] (French: Alchimie du verbe) is a chapter in Arthur Rimbaud's extended poem A Season in Hell (1873). It features what is possibly the earliest defense of popular culture/mass culture:

"For a long time I boasted that I was master of all possible landscapes-- and I thought the great figures of modern painting and poetry were laughable.
What I liked were: absurd paintings, pictures over doorways, stage sets, carnival backdrops, billboards, bright-colored prints, old-fashioned literature, church Latin, erotic books full of misspellings, the kind of novels our grandmothers read, fairy tales, little children's books, old operas, silly old songs, the naïve rhythms of country rimes." --Translation Paul Schmidt

French original

"Depuis longtemps je me vantais de posséder tous les paysages possibles, et trouvais dérisoires les célébrités de la peinture et de la poésie moderne.
J’aimais les peintures idiotes, dessus de portes, décors, toiles de saltimbanques, enseignes, enluminures populaires ; la littérature démodée, latin d’église, livres érotiques sans orthographe, romans de nos aïeules, contes de fées, petits livres de l’enfance, opéras vieux, refrains niais, rythmes naïfs."

List of things liked

absurd paintings, pictures over doorways, stage sets, carnival backdrops, billboards, bright-colored prints, old-fashioned literature, church Latin, erotic books full of misspellings, the kind of novels our grandmothers read, fairy tales, little children's books, old operas, silly old songs, the naïve rhythms of country rimes

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Alchemy of the Word" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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