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Arthur Rimbaud at Scamblesby, 1873

John Burnside, 5 January 2017

... There is no evidence that Rimbaud ever visited Scarborough. Graham Robb At times, it feels like someone else’s dream, copious rain, when it comes, and the sense of Paraclete in every tongue of flame and hymnsong in the sky above the fen; and nightfall, in the gaps between the hills, is quick and unrelenting, like the mouth that glides out from the ditch, no voice to tell what symmetry it brings ...

Fleeing the Mother Tongue

Jeremy Harding: Rimbaud, 9 October 2003

Rimbaud Complete 
edited by Wyatt Mason.
Scribner, 656 pp., £20, November 2003, 0 7432 3950 4
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Collected Poems 
by Arthur Rimbaud, edited by Martin Sorrell.
Oxford, 337 pp., £8.99, June 2001, 0 19 283344 8
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L'Art de Rimbaud 
by Michel Murat.
Corti, 492 pp., €23, October 2002, 2 7143 0796 5
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Arthur Rimbaud 
by Jean-Jacques Lefrère.
Fayard, 1242 pp., €44.50, May 2001, 2 213 60691 9
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Arthur RimbaudPresence of an Enigma 
by Jean-Luc Steinmetz, edited by Jon Graham.
Welcome Rain, 464 pp., $20, May 2002, 1 56649 251 3
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Rimbaud 
by Graham Robb.
Picador, 552 pp., £8.99, September 2001, 0 330 48803 1
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... ArthurRimbaud, the boy who gave it all up for something different, is a legend, both as a poet and a renouncer of poetry. He had finished with literature before the age of 21. By the time his work began to appear in the 1880s, to great acclaim, he had become a trader and a minor explorer in inhospitable country, working for a French company in Aden which sent him across the Red Sea to run a branch of the business – coffee, hides and ivory for the most part – in the town of Harar, between the Ogaden and the highlands of Abyssinia ...

Delirium

Jeremy Harding: Arthur Rimbaud, 30 July 1998

Somebody Else: Arthur Rimbaud in Africa 1880-91 
by Charles Nicholl.
Vintage, 336 pp., £7.99, May 1998, 0 09 976771 6
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A Season in Hell and Illuminations 
by Arthur Rimbaud, translated by Mark Treharne.
Dent, 167 pp., £18.99, June 1998, 0 460 87958 8
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... Jean-Nicolas-Arthur Rimbaud, poet and ex-poet, took a 41 shoe – about a seven and a half in British sizes, an American eight. We have his own word on this, in a letter written shortly before his death at the age of 37, requesting a stocking for varicose veins. The jaunty teenager smoking a pipe in Verlaine’s famous sketch – dearer to Rimbaud’s admirers than the simpering soul in Fantin-Latour’s group portrait of the same year – has elegant legs ...

Diary

Charles Nicholl: At the Maison Rimbaud in Harar, 16 March 2000

... probably the first European to enter this Muslim stronghold. The other is the nomadic French poet Arthur Rimbaud, who worked here as a trader in the 1880s, and who made the place – more than anywhere in his brief, restless life – his home. It was Rimbaud who first brought me here, when I was researching a book ...

Abel the Nomad

Bruce Chatwin, 22 November 1979

Desert, Marsh and Mountain 
by Wilfred Thesiger.
Collins, 304 pp., £9.95
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... dreamed of as a boy poring over Jock of the Bushveld’, and, incidentally, crossed the tracks of Arthur Rimbaud, who had trekked up and down those ‘routes horribles’ forty years before. The Danakil journey set the pattern for a life that turned into a perpetual tramp through the wilderness: as officer in the Sudan Political Service; in the Empty ...

The wind comes up out of nowhere

Charles Nicholl: The Disappearance of Arthur Cravan, 9 March 2006

... In the annals of French literature, Arthur Cravan is more often a colourful footnote than a sober paragraph. He is usually referred to as ‘the poet and boxer Arthur Cravan’, and this odd-seeming conjunction is often fleshed out with more disreputable terms such as ‘con man’ or ‘adventurer ...

Received Accents

Peter Robinson, 20 February 1986

Collected Poems 
by Charles Tomlinson.
Oxford, 351 pp., £15, September 1985, 0 19 211974 5
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Selected and New Poems: 1939-84 
by J.C. Hall.
Secker, 87 pp., £3.95, September 1985, 0 436 19052 4
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Burning the knife: New and Selected Poems 
by Robin Magowan.
Scarecrow Press, 114 pp., £13.50, September 1985, 0 8108 1777 2
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Englishmen: A Poem 
by Christopher Hope.
Heinemann, 41 pp., £4.95, September 1985, 0 434 34661 6
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Selected Poems: 1954-1982 
by John Fuller.
Secker, 175 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 436 16754 9
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Writing Home 
by Hugo Williams.
Oxford, 70 pp., £3.95, September 1985, 0 19 211970 2
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... has madness thrust upon him, whereas Magowan has been studying to achieve it. His true forebear is Arthur Rimbaud with his aesthetics of deranged senses, of Je est un autre. He likes to live dangerously, and brags about it in his footnotes. One section of his book is devoted to Nancy Ling Perry (1947-1974), a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army with ...

Dancing and Flirting

Mark Ford: Apollinaire, 24 May 2018

Zone: Selected Poems 
by Guillaume Apollinaire, translated by Ron Padgett.
NYRB, 251 pp., £9.99, January 2016, 978 1 59017 924 6
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Selected Poems 
by Guillaume Apollinaire, translated by Martin Sorrell.
Oxford, 281 pp., £9.99, November 2015, 978 0 19 968759 6
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... imagery, its lack of all punctuation, exhibit a determination to be ‘absolument moderne’, as Arthur Rimbaud had thought all poets must be some forty years earlier. Beckett translated the poem’s visceral, if enigmatic, last line, ‘Soleil cou coupé’, as ‘Sun corseless head’. This perhaps underplays the violence which other translators have ...

It should have ended with Verdi

John Davis: The Battle of Adwa, 24 May 2012

The Battle of Adwa: African Victory in the Age of Empire 
by Raymond Jonas.
Harvard, 413 pp., £22.95, November 2011, 978 0 674 05274 1
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... foreign adviser, a Swiss engineer named Alfred Ilg). Americans, Russians, Italians and even Arthur Rimbaud, the poet turned arms dealer, came to do business with the king of Shoa. There had been Italians in Ethiopia from much earlier, mainly missionaries like Father (later Cardinal) Guglielmo Massaia, who had been an adviser to Tewodros, Yohannes ...

High Anxiety

Julian Barnes: Fantin-Latour, 11 April 2013

Fellow Men: Fantin-Latour and the Problem of the Group in 19th-Century French Painting 
by Bridget Alsdorf.
Princeton, 333 pp., £30.95, November 2012, 978 0 691 15367 4
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... section – the corner of a corner – of any of Fantin’s four paintings, because it shows Rimbaud and Verlaine sitting side by side. Rimbaud, the beautiful boy amid the beards, chin cherubically in palm, gazes out past our left shoulder; Verlaine, prematurely balding, is in half-profile, and looks tense, his right ...

Love Stories

Edmund White, 4 November 1993

To the Friend Who Did Not Save My Life: A Novel 
by Hervé Guibert, translated by Linda Coverdale.
Quartet, 246 pp., £12.95, November 1991, 9780704370005
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The Man in the Red Hat 
by Hervé Guibert, translated by James Kirkup.
Quartet, 111 pp., £12.95, May 1993, 0 7043 7046 8
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The Compassion Protocol 
by Hervé Guibert, translated by James Kirkup.
Quartet, 202 pp., £13.95, October 1993, 9780704370593
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... emanated, like a watermark, a marvellous tenderness.’ Guibert’s next novel, Les Lubies d’Arthur, was the first I read, soon after it was published in 1983. At the time I liked it enough that I felt moved to write in American Vogue that Guibert was one of the most promising new French writers, but now the novel strikes me as ...

Ambitions

Robert Blake, 18 December 1980

Harold Nicolson: A Biography: Vol. 1, 1886-1929 
by James Lees-Milne.
Chatto, 429 pp., £15, November 1980, 0 7011 2520 9
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Harold Nicolson Diaries 1930-1964 
by Stanley Olson.
Collins, 436 pp., £9.50, October 1980, 0 00 216304 7
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... would never guess from reading it what Verlaine’s relationship was with the farouche boy poet, Rimbaud, although few homosexual liaisons in history are more celebrated – as Edmund Wilson pointed out in a severely critical piece in the New Yorker in 1944. But, apart from the disadvantage of sexual deviation, Harold Nicolson lacked the ...

The Inner Lives of Quiet Women

Joanna Kavenna, 21 September 2000

May Sinclair: A Modern Victorian 
by Suzanne Raitt.
Oxford, 307 pp., £19.99, April 2001, 0 19 812298 5
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... secretary as he went down with the Titanic, though this is difficult to prove. The poet and critic Arthur Symons argued – in The Symbolist Movement in Literature (1899) – that shadowy flickers of worlds ‘unseen’ might be as real as the invisible ‘reality’ of the atom. The reign of the ‘material’ was over; now came the turn of a literature in ...

Provincialism

Denis Donoghue: Karlin’s collection of Victorian verse, 4 June 1998

The Penguin Book of Victorian Verse 
edited by Danny Karlin.
Allen Lane, 851 pp., £25, October 1997, 9780713990492
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... it.’ Yeats had in mind his friends of the Nineties, especially Lionel Johnson, Ernest Dowson and Arthur Symons, poets who had awakened from the vulgarity of ‘the common dream’ – as Yeats calls it in ‘Ego Dominus Tuus’ – at the cost of falling into ‘dissipation and despair’. As a reader of Yeats, I felt obliged to think of his friends as ...

Oui Oyi Awè Jo Ja Oua

Michael Sheringham: The French Provinces, 31 July 2008

The Discovery of France 
by Graham Robb.
Picador, 454 pp., £9.99, July 2008, 978 0 330 42761 6
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... of illusions or prejudices for another. Robb, who has written fine biographies of Balzac, Hugo and Rimbaud, is most at home in the 19th century, but he doesn’t subscribe to that century’s certainties about progress, or to the Paris-centred vision of those who, like Baudelaire, opposed the period’s shibboleths. At times, The Discovery of ...

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