Arthur Rimbaud

Arthur Rimbaud (ärtür´ răNbō´), 1854–91, French poet who had a great influence on the symbolists and subsequent modern poets, b. Charleville. A defiant and precocious youth, Rimbaud at 16 sent some poems to Verlaine, who liked his work and invited him to Paris. In 1872–73 the two poets lived together in London and Brussels. In a drunken quarrel Verlaine fired a pistol, wounding Rimbaud, and their relationship ended. Rimbaud returned home and finished Une Saison en enfer (1873), a confessional autobiography in which he renounces his former hellish life and his work. At an undetermined time he produced Les Illuminations, consisting of prose poems that transcend all traditional syntax and narrative elements.

Rimbaud is thought to have stopped writing poetry at the age of 19, and he never wrote another literary work. Thereafter, he wandered throughout Europe and N Africa, working in various jobs, from circus cashier to commercial traveler to African gunrunner, and engaging in numerous business ventures. Six months after the amputation of his leg due to cancer, he died in Marseilles at 37. Rimbaud's poetry has been called hallucinatory because the poet seems to write not of material reality but of his dreamworld; his technique anticipates the symbolists in its suggestiveness, its abstract verbal music, and its images drawn from the subconscious. "Le Bateau ivre" ( "The Drunken Boat" ) is an outstanding example. Rimbaud's works were published by Verlaine in several posthumous editions, the first complete collection appearing in 1898.

See W. Mason, ed. and tr., Rimbaud Complete (2002) and I Promise to Be Good: The Letters of Arthur Rimbaud (2003); biographies by E. Starkie (3d ed. 1961, repr. 1968), G. Robb (2000), and E. White (2008); studies by W. M. Frohock (1963), W. Fowlie (1966), R. G. Cohn (1974), K. Ross (1980), C. A. Hackett (1981), and C. Nicholl (1999).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Arthur Rimbaud: Selected full-text books and articles

Une Saison en Enfer: A Season in Hell; Les Illuminations: The Illuminations By Arthur Rimbaud; Enid Rhodes Peschel Oxford University Press, 1974
Age of Surrealism By Wallace Fowlie Swallow Press, 1950
Mysticism, Sacred and Profane: An Inquiry into Some Varieties of Praeter-Natural Experience By R. C. Zaehner Clarendon Press, 1957
Librarian’s tip: Chap. IV "God or Nature? (Proust and Rimbaud)"
Dream, Creativity, and Madness in Nineteenth-Century France By Tony James Clarendon Press, 1995
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 21 "Rimbaud: 'Simple Hallucination' and the Otherness of Self"
The Other Orpheus: A Poetics of Modern Homosexuality By Merrill Cole Routledge, 2003
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Two "The Rack of Enchantments: "New Love" in Rimbaud's Illuminations" and Chap. Three "Jouissance of the Commodities: Rimbaud against Erotic Reification"
Transgression By Chris Jenks Routledge, 2003
Librarian’s tip: "Rimbaud" begins on p. 159
The First Moderns: Profiles in the Origins of Twentieth-Century Thought By William R. Everdell University of Chicago Press, 1998
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "Whitman, Rimbaud, and Jules Laforgue"
Verlaine: Fool of God By Lawrence; Elisabeth Hanson Random House, 1957
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 9 "Rimbaud 1854-1871"
World outside the Window: The Selected Essays of Kenneth Rexroth By Kenneth Rexroth; Bradford Morrow New Directions, 1987
Librarian’s tip: "Rimbaud as Capitalist Adventurer" begins on p. 65
The Creative Element: A Study of Vision, Despair, and Orthodoxy among Some Modern Writers By Stephen Spender H. Hamilton, 1953
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Arthur Rimbaud begins on p. 11
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