Rimbaud the Son (The Margellos World Republic of Letters)

Rimbaud the Son (The Margellos World Republic of Letters)

Pierre Michon

Language: English

Pages: 96

ISBN: 0300172656

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Rimbaud the Son, widely celebrated upon its publication in France, investigates the life of a writer, the writing life, and the art of life-writing. Pierre Michon in his groundbreaking work examines the storied life of the French poet Arthur Rimbaud by means of a new literary genre: a meditation on the life of a legend as witnessed by his contemporaries, those who knew him before the legends took hold. Michon introduces us to Rimbaud the son, friend, schoolboy, renegade, drunk, sexual libertine, visionary, and ultimately poet. Michon focuses no less on the creative act: What presses a person to write? To pursue excellence?
The author dramatizes the life of a genius whose sufferings are enormous while his ambitions are transcendent, whose life is lived with utter intensity and purpose but also disorder and dissolution—as if the very substance of life is its undoing. Rimbaud the Son is now masterfully translated into English, enabling a wide new audience to discover for themselves the author Publishers Weekly called “one of the best-kept secrets of modern French prose."

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been said too by Baudelaire, whose waistcoat was long and dark, by Nerval, by Mallarmé, those things are said here in a more convincing fashion, more youthful, more warlike: and so it is right that at our poet’s desk we tacitly agree that they were said here for the first time. It seems new to us, eternally new; but I want to believe with my whole heart that, for Rimbaud, it became old-fashioned poetics the very moment he put his letter into the box, maybe at the moment he signed it—although he

the aery poetry and leaden drunkenness, the high rebellion, the petty herrings, and even the rosary beads in Verlaine’s hands, which Rimbaud calls precisely un chapelet aux pinces. And the luminous bourrée where it all began, the dance that they danced behind the shutters of September, that is there too—but regarding this chapter the Vulgate only makes delicate mention and holds its tongue. It is the Vulgate, and it cannot be gainsaid, it is without flaw. It is beyond debate. Regarding this

plates, which are unknown—he destroyed them later when the two of them came to blows. He does not know that he has just made his masterpiece. The sons are sitting on the ground and making jokes, Rimbaud has become withdrawn again, these poets horsing around like naughty choirboys bore him stiff. Suddenly we can hardly see them. They are not going to stay there all afternoon. That is it. Carjat goes by with his plates, there are the vats, the nitrates, no time to waste, the sons know the way. They

them all go speechless, laugh unpleasantly, and then justify themselves, or pound the table harder—if they were kings or grand dukes, that is—when Rimbaud’s fist hit the table. But I will not speak of them any longer. For I think I have stated the only three ways a living being could react to the existence of this living being, who was or had otherwise been poetry in person—this living willful being, locked into his hatreds and all doors open wide to the infinite freedom of objectless loves, in

heaven, images. One last time I take up the Vulgate. It is said that after Brussels, with Verlaine in Mons, well before the banana fields, Rimbaud returned to the fold; that in an attic in the Ardennes, in Roche, right in the middle of the fields and woods where the peasants of his maternal line had laid down their lives in vain harvests up to Vitalie Cuif, at harvest time, this appalling young man, this brute, this small heart of a girl, wrote Une saison en enfer; that at least if he started

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