Tuesday, 31 May 2011

My Poor Arthur

by Elisabeth Hanson.

Early biography. I picked up my copy in a second-hand store in Sydney, about twenty years ago. It's a pretty battered copy. I could doubtless find a superior copy online, but to me it has always been about the contents of a book, not the physicality of it.

The title, of course, refers to a line written by Madame Rimbaud to describe her son, after his death. "My poor Arthur, who never asked for anything ..."

The Poetics of Indeterminacy

By Marjorie Perloff.

Perloff argues that the map of Modernist poetry needs to be redrawn to include a central tradition which cannot properly be situated within the Romantic-Symbolist tradition dominating the early twentieth century.

Essentially, Perloff points out the limits of a linear narrative.

A very good book

Sunday, 22 May 2011

5 Poems After Rimbaud

by Sean Bonney.

Five poem broadside from Grasp Press, 2010. The poems are quite good, too.

According to the information on the back of the broadside the poems originally appeared at http://abandonedbuildings.blogspot.com/

Second printing of a mere 30 copies.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

A Season In Hell, Illuminations, Poems, Last Lines

I won this miniature book on ebay, part of a series called The Miniature Classics Library. It measures a mere two inches by one and one half inches. This one was published in Madrid, Spain in 2003, though the price written in pencil inside the front cover reads "4 pounds". It's quite a pleasing little edition and, whilst I don't carry it around with me in my shirt pocket, one could easily do so.

The translation, though uncredited, is that of Paul Schmidt.

It is exactly these type of quirky items that makes trawling ebay, worthwhile.

Rimbaud In Abyssinia

by Alain Borer.

The first book that looked primarily at Rimbaud's African years. It was groundbreaking work at the time. Its basic thesis, however, that Rimbaud was a failed businessman during these African ventures was, essentially discredited by the later work done by Charles Nicholl in his very excellent Somebody Else: Rimbaud In Africa.

Nevertheless, this is an essential book if you are even remotely interested in Rimbaud's non-poet life.

Friday, 20 May 2011

En relisant Rimbaud

by Eric Simon.

I received this chapbook in the mail from my friend Eric Simon, who was one of the French buyers of my book about Rimbaud, "His Crucible of Pain". Text is in French, so I can't read it, alas. But it looks wonderful and who knows, one day I might type the text into an online translator to see what Eric has to say about our shared obsession, Rimbaud.

The package also included a flyer (below) promoting - if I'm reading it properly - the 140th anniversary of the Paris Commune, and the associated celebrations.

Thank you, Eric!


Just a portrait I found online; but I really like this one.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Rimbaud: The Cost of Genius

by Neal Oxenhandler.

One of the more recent books to be published about Rimbaud. I found it a mixed bag - some more or less original insights, along with a lot of well-covered ground. Overly psychological in its approach, Oxenhandler draws a long bow on many occasions.


"Critical Guides to French Texts" by Roger Little. A nice little commentary on Les Illuminations, part of a series that also includes guides to Baudelaire, Montaigne, Rousseau and others.

I bought this book in the absurdly well-stocked Gould's Book Arcade in Newtown. I am still cleaning the grime off it.

A Season In Hell

A translation by Patricia Roseberry. This book has the curious subtitle, "The Psychological Autobiography of Arthur Rimbaud". Hmm. I bought the book online under the assumption that the book was some kind of psychological analysis of A Season In Hell. Disappointing to find that it was just one more translation of the text.

The introduction says that this translation is "strictly in conformity with the original edition". The translation, however, doesn't seem to be anything special.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

A Season In Hell

This is a beautiful edition of Season In Hell that features photography by Robert Mapplethorpe. A lovely book. The translation is that of Paul Schmidt. Mapplethorpe is on the cover, with devils horns.

The Emergence of Social Space: Rimbaud & The Paris Commune

by Kristin Ross.

I must confess, I haven't read all of this one yet.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

The Great Rimbaud Forgery

by Bruce Morrissette. Published in 1956. My copy is second-hand and is missing the dusk jacket (if one ever existed). Quite a fascinating volume, subtitled "The Affair of La Chasse spirituelle, With Unpublished Documents and an Anthology of Rimbaldian Pastiches".

For those who don't know the history, La Chasse Spirituelle is a legendary lost Rimbaud masterpiece. Paul Verlaine claimed to have read it and was once in posession of it. It seems his wife may have burned it when the affair between her husband and Rimbaud was uncovered.

This book tells the story of a forgery of that poem, published in May, 1949, in France.

Very interesting and amusing!

Translating Rimbaud's Illuminations

by Clive Scott.

I was excited to discover this book. One of my fascinations is in comparing the various translations of Rimbaud's work. Paul Schmidt remains my favourite. But frankly, I found this book a great letdown. The author posits a rather "organic" approach to translation: "setting out to invest the poems with expanded potential by reshaping them into new expressive environments." Hmm.  He suggests that the translator's imagination can operate more effectively if it fully exploits the space of the page, if it adopts tabular rather than linear ways of thinking.

Sunday, 1 May 2011


By Pierre Petitfils

One of a half dozen major biographies in English. I bought this book from the incomparable Collected Works Bookshop in Melbourne, back in the mid 1990s. Previously I'd owned only the Starkie biography. This book corrected a lot of innacuracies put forward by Starkie.

Rimbaud: The Double Life of a Rebel

By Edmund White.

Briefish biography by the esteemed Edmund White, whom I was formerly familiar with via his work on Genet. As with Miller's book on Rimbaud, White enters his subject via a personal account of how he came to read Rimbaud as a schoolboy.

"Buoyed up by the sensual delirium of the long poem 'The Drunken Boat,' I would float off into daydreams of exotic climes."

This book gives special attention to Rimbaud's London years with Verlaine.