While the continuing obscurity surrounding the genesis, composition and meaning of Rimbaud's Voyelles only enhances the poem's lyrical charisma, there exists a coincidence between the writer's concern with vowels and the work of his early linguistician contemporaries into the evolution of vowel sounds and their phonetic relationship. Alongside serious pioneering work by Bopp, Bréal and Saussure are to be found, complete with diagrams, more phantasmagorical excursions into sound–colour correspondences. How aware was the poet of esoteric work by the philologists Lucien Adam and Honoré Chavée, presented here? Charles Cros's interest in Sanskrit, his work on the mechanical recording of sound, his links with Rimbaud and purported relationship with Bréal foreshadow the semantician's influence on Paulhan's linguistic investigations and the poetics of the Surrealists.
French Cultural Studies – SAGE
Published: Feb 1, 2011
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