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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 ...

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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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 ...


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-ArthurRimbaud, 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 ...


Charles Nicholl: At the Maison Rimbaud​ in Harar

16 March 2000
... are known and recognised. One is the English explorer Richard Burton, who arrived in 1855 and was probably the first European to enter this Muslim stronghold. The other is the nomadic French poet ArthurRimbaud, 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 ...

Abel the Nomad

Bruce Chatwin

22 November 1979
Desert, Marsh and Mountain 
by Wilfred Thesiger.
Collins, 304 pp., £9.95
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... cousins of Kipling’s ‘fuzzy-wuzzies’ and incredibly fierce. He found ‘even more than I had dreamed of as a boy poring over Jock of the Bushveld’, and, incidentally, crossed the tracks of ArthurRimbaud, 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 ...

The wind comes up out of nowhere

Charles Nicholl: On the trail 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’. He is also described as Oscar Wilde’s nephew, which is true ...

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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... deeper and his embracing ‘the doom assign’d’ indicate a desire not to live. Moreover, he has madness thrust upon him, whereas Magowan has been studying to achieve it. His true forebear is ArthurRimbaud 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 ...

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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... of rhyme, but the poem’s irregular line lengths, its open-endedness, its semi-surreal urban imagery, its lack of all punctuation, exhibit a determination to be ‘absolument moderne’, as ArthurRimbaud 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 ...

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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... way to Menelik’s newly built capital at Addis Ababa (its construction was managed by his most trusted foreign adviser, a Swiss engineer named Alfred Ilg). Americans, Russians, Italians and even ArthurRimbaud, 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 ...

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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... And here, just here, where most people stop, at the far left of Corner of a Table, is the most famous 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 ...

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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... I love you,” it made no allusion to a shared experience, to a memory, and yet its very structure 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 ...


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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... this to perfection of form”, sought this new, pure beauty, and suffered in their lives because of 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 ...
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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... communion with close relatives; there is even a theory that he communicated telepathically with his 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 ...


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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... 1920s is shown by Harold Nicolson’s own first book, a study of Verlaine published in 1921. One 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 ...
2 May 1985
Motel Chronicles and Hawk Moon 
by Sam Shepard.
Faber, 188 pp., £3.95, February 1985, 0 571 13458 0
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Paris, Texas 
by Wim Wenders and Sam Shepard.
Ecco, 509 pp., £12.95, January 1985, 0 88001 077 0
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... his performance as Chuck Yeager in the film about the first American astronauts, The Right Stuff. And news of his romance with Jessica Lange, whom he was then partnering in Country, had just broken. Arthur Miller’s marriage to Marilyn Monroe had caught the headlines in the past, but to get the girl and join the top league of male box-office stars at the same time was a new story. There was much ...

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