Rachilde’s Symbolist Drama, “Impie Parade” (1890s)

As far as I can tell, Rachilde’s short drama Impie Parade (which I’ve chosen to translate as, “Unholy Pageant”) was never produced on stage, but I’m still digging into that.  The drama was originally published in 1892 Mercure de France, the avant-garde literary review that her husband ran and she assisted with. I recently completed a “fan translation” into English from French of the text as it was included in the 1894 Le Démon de l’Absurde.

You can read my translation here on The Motionless Ark.

There are variety of things going on in this brief drama as is usually the case with Rachilde and the other French symbolists associated with the Decadent Movement that developed in Charles Baudelaire’s legacy.  There are two primary sections, one a parade of symbols of a dying and decaying Catholic church and the other a melodramatic pageant of the attempted robbery of the church (more or less).  In a very short piece, Rachilde manages to touch on themes of faith, vanity, affliction, suffering, virtue, desire, making choices, dealing with disillusionment and more.

Over time, as I think and reflect on the piece I will post some of those thoughts but right now I just want to present you with this one brief exchange from the first section of the drama that show the way that Rachilde works with verbal symbolism.  I will, for now, present it without comment, just for you to consider.

 

THE BIG CANDLE ON THE RIGHT : My wax is the pure white of beautiful brides.

THE BIG CANDLE ON THE LEFT : My wax is the pure white of precious dead children.

A CANDLE IN THE CORNER : Purity from tallow, chemical virtue.

 


Accompanying image by FLLL: “The altar of Église Saint-Louis-en-l’Île” (2008).  Used under the terms of CC-by-4.o with no endorsement of this translation, this drama, this blog, or this author by the image’s original creator.

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