De la mort de Dieu à la catastrophe nucléaire: adaptations et transformations de l'Apocalypse de St. Jean dans des textes littéraires du 18e au 20e siècle

Translated title of the contribution: From God's Death to Nuclear Catastrophe: Adaptations ans Transformations of St. John's Apocalypsis in Literary Texts from 18th to 20th Century

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article deals with the fascination that The Apocalypse (The Revelation to John) has held for every generation of writers. This fascination stems from various features of the text: its images supposedly used to grasp the intangible and to say the unsayable; its prophetic dimension and visionary appeal; its narrative thrust and rhetorical strength. The paper considers the various mechanisms of transformation and adaptation that have determined the course of The Apocalypse's literary reception, and it then moves on to study a number of representative examples of how the enormous potential of the story has been put to literary use by variously staging it as »the death of God« (Jean Paul) or as the »nihilistic apocalypse« (Byron), by pushing the latter to ist furthest extremes (Baudelaire) or by picturing the apocalypse as a global nuclear disaster (Grass). The paper concludes that writers (and artists) who have used the story generally resist the impulse to satisfy their audience's taste for the sensational; on the other hand, it appears that speaking about the apocalypse never stops being an attempt to keep it at bay.
Original languageFrench
Pages (from-to)187-210
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 1999



  • Byron, Jean Paul, end of world, apocalypse, dream, cut off apocalypse, sacralization of literature, sacralization, Grass, Baudelaire, dark romanticism

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