Saturday, 10 December 2011

Somebody Else: Arthur Rimbaud In Africa

Somebody Else: Arthur Rimbaud in Africa

Perhaps my favourite of all my Rimbaud books. I am particularly interested in Rimbaud's African years and this book is the definitive guide, though "guide" is perhaps the operative word, given how much still remains unknown and, indeed, unknowable.

Nicholl corrects many earlier errors and explodes some well-worn myths along the way, such as the one about Rimbaud being a failed businessman in Africa, when in fact he had amassed a small fortune.

If you are interested in this period of Rimbaud's life, this is a must-have book.

Disaster Was My God

by Bruce Duffy.

I found this to be the best of the novelized versions of Rimbaud's life. The book deals mainly with Rimbaud's African years and I found it highly successful. From the New York Times review: "It’s also fun to hang around with Rimbaud and Verlaine without being stabbed or shot."

I bought the hardback edition. Out now in paperback, also.

Highly recommended.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Rimbaud Brothers

Rimbaud Brothers is a lovely little chapbook by Jose Correa. It features artwork and text (in French) of Rimbaud's "spiritual brothers" such as Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, Jim Morrison, Billy the Kid, Antonin Artuad and quite a few others. Mine is number 846 of 1000.

This edition appears to be part of a series, published by Alain Beaulet.

I bought my copy from the French eBay site.

Saturday, 17 September 2011



Charleville, of course, is Rimbaud's home town. This is a book by Patti Smith, detailing her trips to Charleville, as a young woman in 1973, and then again in 2005 (parts of which can be seen in the Dream of Life documentary).

It's a beautiful book, filled with Patti's poems, drawings, notebook entries and photographs, all pertaining to Rimbaud in one way or another.

One of the most touching photographs is the one of Rimbaud's fork and spoon, which he had brought back from Africa, and had amongst his posessions at the time of his death in Marseille. See below.

This is a highly recommended book. It comes as part of a three book set called "Trois", the others being a book of photographs of statues, as photographed by Patti Smith, and a blank journal.

The publisher appears to be Foundation Cartier.

Rimbaud & Verlaine, Postcard

I picked up this postcard from ebay, recently. I have never seen one advertised before. Not sure if it's rare, but I like it a lot. The illustration is by Jacques Ferrandez.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

The Prince and the Genie

by John MacCombie.

A classic example of how every group - the surrealists, Satanists, symbolists, nihilists, existentialists, etc. - eventually tries to "claim" Rimbaud. Paul Claudel was no exception. In this book, John MacCombie demonstrates that, rather than Rimbaud the voyant, the homosexual, the sordid, sadistic, inconoclastic enfant terrible, it was Rimbaud the mystic, the spiritual seeker, the subtle poetic technician who influenced the deeply religious Claudel and who was the younger poet's poetic model as well as spiritual mentor.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011


Translation by John Ashbery.

The long-awaited Ashbery translation. My copy is a "not for sale" proof copy which was, of course, sold to me on ebay. A paperback version of a book that so far exists only in hardcover, which makes this copy something of a rarity.

The translation is crisp, vibrant, lively and every other thing you'd expect from an Ashbery translation. Having said that, it's probably not quite as radical as I might have expected. But it's very, very good.

Here is Ashbery's version of my favourite Illumination, "H":

All the monstrosities violate the atrocious gestures of Hortense. Her solitude is the erotic mechanism; her lassitude, the energy of love. Under the surveillance of a childhood she has been, at various epochs, the passionate hygiene of the races. Her door is open to human misery. There, the morality of present day beings is disincorporated into her passion or her action -- O terrible shudder of novice lovers, on the bloody ground and under the illuminating hydrogen! find Hortense.


There is a superb review, here: