Rimbaud Paperback – 7 Sep 2001
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Arthur Rimbaud was a extraordinary figure, a man who in his teenage year s wrote poetry that is arguably amongst the greatest in French Literature, but who gave it all up by his early 20s and went to Africa to run guns. It's hard to think of a more fascinating figure from the 19th century, or one more relevant to the youth-icon-fixated present. Robb's biography inhabits the superlative mode: Rimbaud has been "one of the most destructive and liberating influences on twentieth-century literature", a spiritual soulmate to Patti Smith and Kurt Cobain. "For many readers (including this one)", he confesses, "the revelation of Rimbaud's poetry is one of the decisive events of adolescence". The poet's letter to his old teacher in 1871 (in which he famously asserted that "je est une autre"--"I is somebody else") is "one of the most important aesthetic texts" of the age. In 1873 Rimbaud was shot in the arm by his lover Verlaine; the bullet was extracted by the police surgeon. "If it ever emerges from a police archive", Robb asserts, "it will probably become one of the holiest relics in modern literature". It's possible to imagine that some readers may find this energetic a little outré, but at the least all this authorial excitement has the zing of authenticity; Robb convinces you that Rimbaud's work does really matter. If you don't already possess a copy of his poetry, reading this fizzingly brilliant biography will compel you to go out and purchase one at once. And Robb's work has all the scholarly virtues of solid research and a detailed sense of time and place. But the real genius of this book is that it encourages the reader to enter imaginatively into the hectic intensity of Rimbaud's short life so completely that even the subject's out-and-out obnoxiousness--stabbing his friends with knives, breaking marriages, sponging off all and sundry, being utterly unreliable and drinking himself into the grave--seem like radical acts of anti-bourgeois revolution. Rimbaud's philosophy of "scummification" ("je m'encrapule!" he declared), which meant that he washed neither himself nor his clothes, and deliberately sought out a life at the very bottom of society, was more than an adolescent cussedness. This book is a triumph. --Adam Roberts --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
'Robb has written a great biography - scholarly, humane and above all marvelously entertaining' GuardianSee all Product Description
What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?
Top Customer Reviews
I came to this book not by way of Arthur Rimbaud but by way of Graham Robb. Having read his biographies of Balzac and Hugo, and his recent `Discovery of France', I was so impressed by his distinctively humorous and no-nonsense style and by his clear and fresh approach to his subjects that I thought it worthwhile to read his biography of Rimbaud too. I came to this book with very little knowledge of its subject beyond the supposed scandal of his affair with Paul Verlaine; I had not consciously read Rimbaud's poetry before, save for the selection of `Illuminations' that Benjamin Britten had transformed into a marvellously evocative song-cycle for his lover Peter Pears to sing. By referring to Rimbaud in the first sentence of his introduction as "one of the most destructive and liberating influences on twentieth-century culture", Robb immediately aroused my curiosity.
Robb has always been a fan of Rimbaud: "for many readers (including this one), the revelation of Rimbaud's poetry is one of the decisive events of adolescence." Robb's biography is, then, clearly a labour of love: "My only regret is that it did not take twice as long." Robb seeks to get to the heart of his subject by pulling away the web of myth in which his subject's life has been shrouded: "One of the starting-points of this biography was the discovery that Rimbaud's image is still a faint reflection of the evidence"; and by following Rimbaud's detailed European travels with an equally detailed description of those in the Horn of Africa, Robb has "tried at least to allow Rimbaud to grow up".Read more ›
Very many tedious biographies have told this story. After two or three retellings Rimbaud the man becomes so unpleasant and insubstantial that we are left only with the poetry which seems inexplicable in such a context.
Graham Robb has decided to do more than just "print the legend", he has done a great deal of research and, even more important, he has thought himself through to a more rational view of the man. The poetic episode becomes an interlude in a life, not the justification of the life. Once we see his life whole and realise that he was a successful trader with a growing reputation; And that his life was cut short not because of his denial of his gifts, but because of bad luck with bone cancer, it becomes easier to accept that he might have been right to give up literature for the active life. His life was certainly more fulfilling than that of Verlaine. I highly recommend this book for its methodical reseearch, its insights and the wit of its writing. The only reason I do not give it five stars is that it is extremely light on interpreting the poetry and does not really enter into teh peotic part of the relationship between the two poets. Highly recommended as a good read and one which might make you look again at some of your prejudices
Skip to Part Two and beyond and you will find the most hilarious description of antics of expedition, confidence, pranks and genius I have ever read. Robb trains a wry self-knowing eye on Arthur's life and times [see? Robb is that good, I feel I know Rimbaud already] and once the story expands to Africa tha pace increases tenfold.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This must be the inside track , very wise and insightful. wonderful.Published 17 months ago by Robin G Hooppell
This whizzes into my Top ten Best Ever Biography (you don't get that in High Fidelity) because Robb manages to write sublime caustic prose that corrects both the record and the... Read morePublished on 26 Feb. 2014 by DN PERKS
We know for certain that Athena sprang from the head of Zeus fully armored. But from where did Rimbaud spring? Read morePublished on 15 Feb. 2013 by Boyd Hone