Rimbaud A Biography E–pub READ


Or Brussels possess jungles and deserts of other sorts at the very farthest possible remove from a miserly peasant s sordid sualid mucky little world and LaMother the Mouth of Darkness where she will never seek him now that he is gone And the cycle returns and returns In the end AR becomes his mother in certain ways a rather grasping cunning trader and coffee merchant in Africa But with this telling and vital difference he is well known for his eager assimilation into the cultures and societies he inhabits he is continually and unstintingly generous to those at the edges of survival They did not need to solicit anything AR sees observes understands and gives open handedlyAnd then he diesRegarding Graham Robb s BiographyI m not uite sure why it is the case that biographers seem reluctant to delineate the trajectory of their subject s life how does it all cohere how do even the discontinuities connect What evidence allows one to present such a conclusion To what evidentiary standard does that evidence rise I wrote extensively on this uestion in my remarks on Nicholl s Somebody Else I can t say that Robb doesn t try in part but then again I m not entirely sure that he does at least not in any straightforward way that I can detect He seems content with rather vague notions I am not But then that s my problem not Robb s apparently In any case I ll outline my take aways and I m not entirely sure at this point how much of this is Robb s or Nicholl s and how much of this is my elaborations on Robb sNicholl s conclusions and how much is my own filling in of blanks It s interesting isn t it how our sense of other persons is such a collation and confection of this that and the other thingIt seems to me that throughout his life Rimbaud s project was himself to the exclusion I think it fair to say of almost any other consideration or value It also seems to me that one might see him working out this project in three different phases of his lifeFirst there was the task of surviving his childhood as I ve outlined above This focus on himself at this stage was inseparable from self preservation into adolescence and adulthood And I also think that he must have realized that in parent child relationships of the kind he survived power shifts from the parent to the child over time a little bit every day as both the parent and the child ageThen comes the second phase when AR had come to realize that he had the power to smash his compartmented life It might mean that he would have to endure every sort of privation but when he left home for the first time he also signaled 1 his willingness to endure whatever must be endured to live his life from the inside out as I say irrespective of conseuences 2 his confidence I suspect that he could succeed which in this context meant smashing constraints and in the process change life and 3 his confidence that he could managemanipulate his mother And of course his assessments were correct He succeeds and poetry was merely a tool a means that he laid aside with not so much as a second thought when he didn t need it any longer or find it particularly useful to achieve his larger purposes Just not worth the bother At some point in his late adolescence he enters a third phase of his life most effectively presented in Nicholls "Somebody Else In This Phase "Else In this phase tires of all this smashing of convention and constraint It had become rather routine and well tedious and boring I d say I would say that he began to think that all this smashing was really rather easy for him didn t present much of a challenge

actually he realizes 
He realizes there is much in him than he had already discovered Then he came to need an understanding of the circumstances under which life would become hard for him really really hard as hard as any he could survive Was there in him the stuff of survival under the harshest conditions that he could contrive to encounter Here again we see in operation the sort of uestionsmotivations familiar to him since birth survival and self assertion Perhaps this need was instinctual by that point in his life Perhaps it didn t occur to him that life could be lived in any other wayAnd then he devoted the ears remaining to him and all his extraordinary energy vitality and altogether towering preternatural strength of will to discovering exactly what he was made of This segment of his project is entirely clear in Nicholl s account of Rimbaud s life in Africa And then he died in bed from cancer of the bone it appears Disease and the unimaginable suffering he endured in his last months turned him into somebody else altogether but that person wasn t AR There will never be a single biography that does Rimbaud total justice and that s as it should be being the mystery man he was Rimbaud lived his entire life on the edge be it the edge of meaning or the edge of civilization and civilized behavior and because of this he himself didn t have the time or desire for looking back or specifying in retrospect what he was up to He was always riding the wave of the Present Tense or even ahead of it in the never attained Future as long as he lived full of contradictions only to those who wanted to figure him outRobb presents Rimbaud and his 19th c in a very earthy gritty smelly fecal lice infested way via a prose that is itself kind of coarse and craggy He doesn t have much patience with the angelic Rimbaud all wrapped up in metaphysical transcendence and arcane possibly occult theories His Rimbaud is a much bigger drinker drug user and buggeree than I previously thought and a vile prankster jerking off in his housemate s glass of milk poisoning dogs shitting on a table during a party and running his hands through it etc But his Rimbaud is also a much better businessman with an iron core of practicality and shrewdnessHis Rimbaud even through his later miseries was a supremely detached individual someone whose outhful pronouncement I is another was a precept he carried with him throughout his life so that even while mired in his most pessimistic bitterness after losing his leg was still able to view himself with detachment and maintain an extremely cynical sense of humorThis is as complete a biography as one could want enriched by scholarship and a real feel for the times and places and free of the Rimbaud worship I ve read in other accounts but Robb s Rimbaud is not my Rimbaud which is how it should be because in many ways Rimbaud will forever be an at least partially closed book Some of us will be puzzling over him foreve. Eer is even astonishing saint to symbolists and surrealists; poster child for anarchy and drug use; gay pioneer; a major influence on artists from Picasso to Bob Dyla. Was actually proud to have accomplished his explorer s spirit than his adolescent ears as a troubled poetRobb definitely leaves us with the distinct impression that Rimbaud was always pushing some boundary somehow striving to achieve to expand upon limits of what society deemed worthwhile or normal It was precisely because of this that he always seemed a step ahead of his peers and colleagues and was misunderstood misrepresented and unable to be fully appreciated for his contributions both to literature and to exploration And I think he struggled between his disdain for man for not being able to ascend to his level of forward thinking and chose the life of a loner a life of mystery a life in which it always seemed he was looking down on everyone from a lofty heightRimbaud s terseness and unpleasantness are conflicted with stories from acuaintances regarding his verbosity and pleasantness However I do think that Rimbaud had the ability to play many different roles as it suited his needs Above all else he was adaptable and resourcefulThere is something so tough about Rimbaud which is evidenced by his correspondence his demanding nature and his forceful reuests to family and friends when he needed help Yet there is something very vulnerable at the heart of Rimbaud and that uality is what has drawn people to his work and life even over 100 ears after his death I must state at the outset that my comments here do not constitute a review of Graham Robb s biography of Rimbaud not in any strict sense that I know not entirely that is I for one am unable to form any conception of another life that might approach a clear and accurate approximation of past reality by grappling with only one biography The reasons are many and I need not recount them here In the present case my remarks arise from a sense of the man that is a concoction of ingredients from at least three sources Robb s Arthur Rimbaud Charles Nicholl s Somebody Else and the elements of a biographical narrative that I formulate in response to absences and silences in these other sources This is so because I want most of all to end my encounter with Rimbaud once and for all time I hope with a tenuous grasp of the sort of person he was and a rather definite if speculative and erroneous outline of the trajectory of this very interesting man s lifeRegarding Arthur Rimbaud my confectionAR was of course a highly intelligent imaginative and verbally gifted individual who was born to parents of the worst possible sort his father an absence his mother grasping avaricious narrow mean spirited bigoted cracker filth of the lowest order a joyfully sadistic killer of souls A woman of wealthy peasant stock just the type that the most fervent of Joseph Stalin s propagandists have depicted in their harshest caricatures of kulaks except that in the case of Madame R caricature is realistic representationSo after papa abandons his family small wonder mama fixes her considerable energy and attention upon raising four powerless little ones of whom AR is the second in birth order And how does he cope How does he manage to forefend soul murder and save a vestige of himself for another day First he uses his considerable powers of observation which extreme necessity renders even acute to take the measure renders even acute to take the measure the dangerous world he inhabits which he knows is fixed and settled a world he is utterly powerless to alter amend And in his early ears he learns that in his very dangerous world the self is vulnerable to extermination extinction in every imaginable way And in such a world how does one survive By hypocrisy lies cunning always But cunning is multiform One develops the capacity to generate forms and approaches to cunning as circumstances reuire given one s own powers which change as one and the Other ages in response to threats that pervade one s immediate environment As a child AR like Margret Fuller went into hiding in compartments In one persona he becomes an outwardly compliant little boy an altogether brilliant student etc He cultivates his verbal gifts which he deployed with genius He also develops an inviolate private sphere of the mind He the real Rimbaud retreats and hides there What happens in that private sphere is AR s development and preservation of self who thinks his own thoughts fearlessly in secret He also cultivated boundless rage which he employed when he could a bit later in life in order to destroy all convention all constraints to the self Every threat a target which he engaged relentlessly unremittingly without concern for conseuences and without remorse Every form of extreme behavior he ever enacted is also a precise reflection and measure of the abuse he endured And so he lives a life devoted to preservation of a vulnerable and fragile self whom he is always already at the point of loosingBut this loss is also multiform First one can loose oneself to bourgeois convention and so one asserts the self in ways that defy undermine bourgeois convention with the intent of obliterating convention altogether or if not that then demonstrating in one s own life that convention is simply that the work of persons of a rather low contemptible sort certainly not the order that some absolute transcendent being creates and imposes on man But then over time life in extremis at least of this particular life in extremis becomes familiar known rather tedious boring and well conventional in its own way In Nicholl s brilliant insight p 149 A sense of disappointment and defeat of the entropic dwindling of the unknown into familiarity Life that at first enacted a sense of the authentic self becomes conventional scripted a litany and a threat A threatening sense of self under siege now under attack from another uadrant buildsIt may well be that only persons who have been the targets of sadistic killers of souls can grasp the blinding terror and rage that such circumstances evoke In any case it is terrible and leads one to desperate responses And so AR jettisons entirely whatever past his current way of life has accumulated to the point of loosing memory of it He escapes seeks the unknown a new life in unfamiliar extremes et once to retrieve his actual nature Nicholls p 152 from circumstances that had become routine engulfing and obliterative of the self He escapes to traffic in the unknown always in the harshest physically most demanding and injuring conditions at the limits of human survival Alpine blizzards the most sualid ghettos of the urban underclasses that London. Ulture During his lifetime he was a bourgeois baiting visionary and the list of his known crimes is longer than the list of his published poems But his posthumous car. ,

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I came to Rimbaud the opposite way to most people I suspect I I had heard his life story before knowing any of his poetry Robb had written a fascinating well researched and well written biography of a life that is full of controversy and unknowns When ou read a biography Khaiye Aur Vajan Ghataiye you always have to realiseou are only getting part of the picture but as far as is possible Robb s book at least seems balanced The Rimbaud of this book is a smart energetic genius and a fascinating if not always appealing character Given the passion Rimbaud generates I suspect some people will hate any biography as it will not align with their image of the man Which image is correct I certainly don t know but this is an excellent biography whether Tales from a Pilots Logbook you are an existing Rimbaud fan or not maybe five stars I don t know re reading for a fourth time this is one of my favorite biographies from one of my favorite biographers robb s portrait cuts through the lice filth and mythos surrounding the late 19th century vagabond demigogue and symbolist poet highly recommended 3star for the subject matter than the writing Robb is an excellent writer Rimbaud is a terrible subject Raised by a horrible mother as a teenager he seemed dedicated to ruining as many lives as possible for the sake of some bizarre artistic principle Morality is the weakness of the brain I feel dirty having spent time in his company Then he stopped writing poetry went to Africa far from mommy dearest and French weather and because a respected trader and explorer Then he died from bone cancer This whizzes into my Top ten Best Ever Biographyou don t get that in High Fidelity because Robb manages to write sublime caustic prose that corrects both the record and the myth that surrounds Rimbaud Robb knows his stuff and writes beautiful lyrical prose whilst also being alive to the obsfuscations and mistakes made by earlier writers We see Rimbaud as an enfant terrible writing poetry that both harked back to the remnants of romanticism but also looked forward to modernism and beyond We see his relationship with Verlaine and the self destructive tendencies of both his relationships with family an absent father a controlling mother His endless restless wandering and a search for meaning or an abandonment of that search as meaningless Nihilism solipsism dalliances with homosexuality and the search for an income as his reputation fizzed and fizzled The duality of his life is clearer in the final sections in Africa where Rimbaud writes home in a downbeat constantly negative voice whilst being recognized by those around him as a jolly fellow ferociously efficient at his job be it gun running storage hire or the like It served Rimbaud well to present different facets to different people as we all do but he seems to have abandoned poetry whilst keeping an eye on a growing cult reputation in France Robb reignites the debate about his complicity in slavery seeing his job as being impossible with out it nothing could be done in the region he was in without using slave labour of some sort Robb sees his way to correct other unforced or lazy research some previous writers have had no knowledge at all of the geography of the areas Rimbaud worked in A sad ending to his life leg amputation and the furious last illness counterpointed by the myth that was built around him and the growing spread of his poetry I sometimes read biography because of a curiosity about the biographer as well as the subject I had heard alot about Graham Robb and this biography confirms the blurb on the front of the book from Will Self the best biographer of his generation I suspect its hard to argue with that This Rimbaud biography is something else Another brilliant biography from Robb A few weeks ago I picked up John Ashbery s celebrated translation of "Rimbaud s Illuminations and as I was browsing through it I realized "s Illuminations and as I was browsing through it I realized had only the sketchiest notion of Rimbaud s life essentially a few mangled fragments from Enid Starkie s 1968 doorstop and some noxious images from Total Eclipse All I knew was that he d written a handful of iconoclastic poems had filthy sex with Verlaine then pitched it all aside and wandered off to Africa to dieGraham Robb s biography as I expected after reading Strangers last summer is superb Robb embraces the full context of Rimbaud s short life reaching beyond the mythic Satanic adolescent to include the eually intrepid imperialistexplorer I have tried at least to allow Rimbaud to grow up Robb begins Whatever في الانفصال your aesthetic or political investment Rimbaud s brilliant brutal life and death is astonishing disgusting and grimly funny Robb is also uite funny especially when he s dissing all the Rimbaud biographies which preceded his ownMy only complaint with this mostly well designed book is the abysmal uality of the photographs which look like copies made from copies on a cheap office machine Someone at Norton should be slapped Anyway our life is misery endless misery So why do we exist Send meour news Best wishes Rimbaud writing from the Marseilles hospital where he died I don t think there are many people in this world that have the ability to simutaneously allure and repulse but based on Robb s biography I would assign Rimbaud to this categoryI read biographies because in many instances it s the only way to feel as if Natural Cat Care you re meeting someoneou can never meet because of life circumstances or of course death When I hear of someone that I find interesting I make it a point to find out about himher and sometimes the only way to do that is to readwatch hisher work if that s an option or find a solid biography of that individual s life Of course much of the supposition of that individual s personality has to be drawn from acuaintances correspondence and choices So we make a lot of inferences but I think Robb does a bang up job of presenting a very human idea of what Rimbaud was like Despite the fact that he s obviously a fan of Rimbaud s work he never parks Rimbaud on a pedestal We have a tendency to romanticize individuals after death to somehow make them saint like or pure than they could have ever been In Life With The life With the success of Rimbaud s poetry I think many individuals have done just that freezing Rimbaud at the tender age of 17 Forever trapping him in the role of boy poet and Verlaine s tempestuous lover And it is precisely that typecasting that I think Rimbaud spent the remainder of his life trying to desert I think he would loathe that his legacy has less to do with those actions he. Unknown beyond the avant garde at the time of his death Arthur Rimbaud 1854 1891 has been one of the most destructive and liberating influences on twentieth century Rimbaud A Biography

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