Audrey's Reviews > Rimbaud

Rimbaud by Graham Robb
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's review
Sep 20, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: history-france, biography, nonfiction
Read from September 05 to 20, 2010

p. 322: "Anyway, let's hope we can enjoy a few years of true repose in this life; and it's a good thing that this life is the only one and that it's obvious that it is, since it's impossible to imagine another life more tedious than this!"
So why did Rimbaud suddenly give up writing creatively? He got bored of it and moved on. Story of his life. This is an excellent biography on the "enfant terrible" Arthur Rimbaud, from his days as a filthy, lice-infested anarchic boy genius who wrote avant-garde poetry, to his later life of restlessly wandering the world before settling in Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) as a merchant, selling antique firearms that eventually helped the Abyssinians overthrow their colonial overlords. This is a very academic biography, but still quite enjoyable to read. There's some beautiful pieces of prose here and there, and a lot of very entertaining anecdotal information, many including Rimbaud and Verlaine, but also excerpts from his letters from Abyssinia to his mother and sister back in France. Loved it.

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Reading Progress

09/06/2010 page 46
09/09/2010 page 88
16.0% "stupid ochem is getting in the way of reading this."
09/15/2010 page 232
43.0% "when verlaine and rimbaud were hanging out in london, one of the things they liked to do is wrap long knives in towels and then try to stab each other with them. after a minor injury was achieved, they'd go to a pub."
09/17/2010 page 266
49.0% "on page 224 is a detailed forensic description of verlaine's anus and penis - physical "evidence" of his pederasty which led to him corrupting and attempting to murder rimbaud." 2 comments
09/18/2010 page 330
61.0% "as deliciously chaotic, anarchic, and perverse as the relationship between verlaine and the teenage rimbaud is, i find rimbaud as an adult more interesting - when his almost pathological impulse to seek new stimulation leads him to travel the world (africa, middle east, java) like some sort of unhinged amateur anthropologist, nearly dying 34234089 times from disease and massacres by native tribes."
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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Audrey p.95: "The poet appears as a Dr Frankenstein of the dictionary, stitching together his mockery of scientific rationalism. The Rimbaldian human being is a repellent piece of animated vegetation, a poxy assemblage of femurs, sinciputs, scapulas, and hypogastria, a prey to cephalalgia, clottings, fluxions, rickets, nits, and nasal mucus - a monster in the shape of a philosophical question-mark: if Man was made in the image of God, then what must God be like?"

message 2: by Joanna (new)

Joanna I am finally reading Rimbaud after um... 15 years of needing to HA

Audrey good! he makes lice infestations, chamber pots, indigestion, and flinging poo sound so beautiful.

message 4: by Audrey (last edited Sep 17, 2010 06:12PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Audrey pg.224: "The penis is short and not very voluminous. The glans in particular is small and tapering, becoming increasingly thin towards its outer extremity [...] The anus can be dilated quite markedly, by a slight parting of the buttocks, to a depth of about one inch. This movement reveals a widened infundibulum, resembling a truncated cone with a concave apex. The folds of the sphincter are without injury and bear no marks... Contractability: remains almost normal. The conclusion to be drawn from this examination is that P. Verlaine bears on his person traces of habitual pederasty, both active and passive. Neither type of trace is sufficiently marked to give grounds for inveterate and long-standing habits; rather, they would indicate fairly recent practices..."

Audrey p.289: "If I had the means to travel without being forced to stay and work for a living, I'd never be seen in the same place for more than two months. The world is very big and full of magnificent lands that would take more than a thousand lives to visit." (1885)

Audrey p.371: "Man hopes to spend three quarters of his life suffering in order to spend the last quarter taking his ease. Usually, he dies of poverty without knowing how far along he is with his plan!" Rimbaud to his mother and sister, 6 January 1886.

Audrey Excerpt from Illuminations, pg. 242: "Let this tomb be rent to me at last, whitewashed, with the cement-lines in relief - a long way under ground.

I lean my elbows on the table, the lamp casts a brilliant light on these newspapers that I'm a fool to re-read, these books devoid of interest. -

At an enormous distance above my subterranean living-room the houses take root, the mists assemble. The mud is red or black. Monstrous city, endless night!

Lower down the drains. On either side, nothing but the thickness of the globe. Perhaps chasms of blue sky, wells of fire. It may be on these planes that moons and comets, seas and fables are encountered.

In hours of bitterness I imagine sapphire and of metal. I am master of the silence. Why would something like a basement-window be blanching in the angle of the vault?"

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