Atle Kittang’s Rimbaud

This article argues that Atle Kittang, in his doctoral dissertation of 1973, has initiated a new approach to Arthur Rimbaud’s poetic texts that has inspired many other scholars. In this approach, it is essential that there is a constant tension in Rimbaud’s poetry between what can be read, or understood, «le lisible», and what cannot be read, or understood, «l’illisible». According to Atle Kittang, Rimbaud’s poetic texts are also clearly a critique of the romantic discourse. Without refuting this point of view, this article argues not only that romantic discourse is not homogeneous, but also that Rimbaud’s own texts contain a romantic discourse, sometimes unreadable.

Keywords: Atle Kittang, Rimbaud, romantic discourse, readable, unreadable, play