Rimbaud: The Double Life of a Rebel Paperback – 1 Aug 2009
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"'A wonderful biography, filled with energy and life, driven as if by a lightning flash... Rimbaud's life was a circle of fire and suffering. This book contains it.' Peter Ackroyd, The Times 'White debunks some of the widely held misconceptions about the original enfant terrible of French poetry... He puts simplicity at the reader's service, yet is not afraid to offer his own startling imagery... Rimbaud shines a light on some of the most beautiful verse in modern poetry.' Financial Times 'White's abiding kinship with Rimbaud give's this restless soul's well-travelled tale new fire.' Vanity Fair 'White retells this unparalleled story in lucid, easy style... His sympathy for Rimbaud, particularly in his late years of exile and loneliness, is often quite moving... A good lively introduction.' Kevin Jackson, Sunday Times"
About the Author
Edmund White is a renowned author and literary and cultural critic. He is the author of biographies of Genet and - in the Penguin Lives series - of Proust, and of eight novels, most recently Hotel de Dream. He teaches at Princeton and lives in New York City.
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Top Customer Reviews
If you are in love with Rimbaud you should simply stay away from this book. White does not offer anything you have not heard before - major difference from academic biographies is that he seldom indicates his authorities but for some it may be a plus: there are no boring footnotes. Which, however, does not indicate that it is the result of original research. It is not.
If White is fascinated with Rimbaud he fails to convey this fascination completely. The quality of translations he included is rather doubtful - unless you have a penchant for a vista translations which have little ambition beyond grasping the meaning precisely leaving the form aside (or to be described separately).
If you are in love with White... Well... Hasn't he published a novel recently? Read it instead.
My impressions were eerily similar to those White's Proust left me with - both books could be summed up in the following manner: nothing much happens, nothing much happens, he writes something which when summed up sounds quite trivial, nothing much happens, he dies, some people whose names may ring a bell remember him afterwards, thank you all dear. Plus a bibliography which fails to provide basic data for further research (as if White was painfully aware of the fact that his presentation of the subject matter can hardly make anyone interested in any further research...) in which my favourite part was "most of these books are out of print anyway" - have you ever heard of libraries, honey?
Just one example of "originality".Read more ›
It is mesmerizing reading about the quickfire creation of Rimbaud's ambitious output before his total withdrawal from art and the artistic community. Passages of the poet's work are sublimely beautiful and one can't help wonder what sort of literary works he would have created in his adult life if he had kept writing. That such a young man made such an enormous impact on his early champions speaks more about the bewitching influence of adolescent gusto, particularly from such a handsome and frustrated youth, rather than the quality of his writing. Nevertheless, the enduring influence the poet had on successive generations of artists is clear.
I loved Edmund White's biography of Proust, but for some reason this work didn't grip me as much. White quotes extensively from Rimbaud's poems, giving his own English translations, but I would have preferred the French as well to get some idea of what made made his language so electrifying. As it was, the main impression I was left with on finishing the book was of an unpleasant man who led an unhappy life. This book would also have been improved by some photographs as several interesting ones are described.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Strictly speaking this is not a biography of Rimbaud nor does White claim it to be. In fact he recommends the best biographies in English and French in his bibliography. Read morePublished 23 months ago by JOSEPH OLIVER