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Rimbaud: influence on Kerouac, Bob Dylan, & Patti Smith.,
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This review is from: Rimbaud Complete (Modern Library) (Hardcover)
Interestingly enough, one of the films that Leo DiCaprio made before Titanic was a film about Rimbaud entitled Total Eclipse. You can probably find it on tape or DVD if you want a quick background in film. It's an OK film.
Rimbaud was a genius -- not just in poetry, but he was probably one of maybe the 10 smartest kids in France at the time -- I'm just guessing -- but he was very smart.
That's one of the more interesting aspects of his life as a poet -- he stopped writing at age 19 -- yet he is one of Frances most famous poets!
I read a recent biography that examines his entire life and goes into much more detail regarding his life in Africa. He died in his late 30s if my memory serves me correctly.
On a superficial level he talked about using drugs for the total derangement of the senses --as a way to reinvent oneself as a new being. But his influence on Kerouac et. al. really goes beyond that. While Baudelaire was seen in many ways as the father of modernism, Rimbaud already started to foreshadow postmodernism. By postmodernism I mean an ultra-awareness of history, a kind of feeling of being outside of time, of looking down on time from a lofty perch.
He rebelled against all the institutions of the time -- the Church, the State, the family, etc...
It is the rebellious spirit that has captivated so many who have come since.
If I started quoting his work, I'd be here all night, but I have noticed (and purchased) a new complete collection of his work edited and with an introduction by Wyatt Mason, Modern Library Press. Its in all the stores in the States -- don't know if it's available in the UK and elsewhere, but it includes letters and other goodies.