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The Emergence of Social Space

Rimbaud and the Paris Commune

1989
Author:

Kristin Ross
Foreword by Terry Eagleton

The Emergence of Social Space

Rimbaud’s poems feature in this re-creation of the Communard experience. "This engaging study does much to open up new areas of research. . . . Extremely well documented." --South Atlantic Review

Rimbaud’s poems feature in this re-creation of the Communard experience. "This engaging study does much to open up new areas of research. . . . Extremely well documented." --South Atlantic Review

This engaging study does much to open up new areas of research. Extremely well documented.

South Atlantic Review

The 1870s in France - Rimbaud’s moment, and the subject of this book - is a decade virtually ignored in most standard histories of France. Yet it was the moment of two significant spatial events: France’s expansion on a global scale, and, in the spring of 1871, the brief existence of the Paris Commune - the construction of revolutionary urban space. Arguing that space, as a social fact, is always political and strategic, Kristen Ross has written a book that is at once history and geography of the Commune’s anarchist culture - its political language and social relations, its values, strategies, and stances.

Central to her analysis of the Commune as social space and oppositional culture is a close textual reading of Arthur Rimbaud’s poetry. His poems - a common thread running through the book - are one set of documents among many in Ross’s recreation of the Communard experience. Rimbaud, Paul Lafargue, and the social geographer Elisee Reclus serve as emblematic figures moving within and on the periphery of the Commune; in their resistance to the logic and economy of a capitalist conception of work, in their challenge to work itself as a term of identity, all three posed a threat to the existing order. Ross looks at these and other emancipator notions as aspects of Communard life, each with an analogous strategy in Rimbaud’s poetry. Applying contemporary theory to a wealth of little-known archival material, she has written a fresh, persuasive, and original book.

Kristin Ross teaches literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Terry Eagleton is a fellow and tutor at Wadham College, Oxford University. Among his many books are two from Minnesota, The Rape of Clarissa and Literary Theory: An Introduction.

The Emergence of Social Space

Kristin Ross is a professor of comparative literature at New York University.

The Emergence of Social Space

This engaging study does much to open up new areas of research. Extremely well documented.

South Atlantic Review

Kristin Ross has crafted a thoughtful and thought-provoking first-rate work. The Paris Commune and Arthur Rimbaud are extremely well situated in sociohistorical context, and Ross' description and literary analysis are penetrating and stimulating.

European Studies Journal