Arthur Rimbaud

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Rimbaud, Arthur

(ärtür` răNbō`), 1854–91, French poet who had a great influence on the symbolistssymbolists,
in literature, a school originating in France toward the end of the 19th cent. in reaction to the naturalism and realism of the period. Designed to convey impressions by suggestion rather than by direct statement, symbolism found its first expression in poetry but
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 and subsequent modern poets, b. Charleville. A defiant and precocious youth, Rimbaud at 16 sent some poems to VerlaineVerlaine, Paul
, 1844–96, French poet. He gained some notice with the Parnassian poetry of Poèmes saturniens (1866) and Fêtes galantes (1869) and became a figure in the bohemian literary world of Paris.
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, who liked his work and invited him to Paris. In 1872–73 the two poets lived together in London and Brussels. In a drunken quarrel Verlaine fired a pistol, wounding Rimbaud, and their relationship ended. Rimbaud returned home and finished Une Saison en enfer (1873), a confessional autobiography in which he renounces his former hellish life and his work. At an undetermined time he produced Les Illuminations, consisting of prose poems that transcend all traditional syntax and narrative elements.

Rimbaud is thought to have stopped writing poetry at the age of 19, and he never wrote another literary work. Thereafter, he wandered throughout Europe and N Africa, working in various jobs, from circus cashier to commercial traveler to African gunrunner, and engaging in numerous business ventures. Six months after the amputation of his leg due to cancer, he died in Marseilles at 37. Rimbaud's poetry has been called hallucinatory because the poet seems to write not of material reality but of his dreamworld; his technique anticipates the symbolists in its suggestiveness, its abstract verbal music, and its images drawn from the subconscious. "Le Bateau ivre" ("The Drunken Boat") is an outstanding example. Rimbaud's works were published by Verlaine in several posthumous editions, the first complete collection appearing in 1898.


See W. Mason, ed. and tr., Rimbaud Complete (2002) and I Promise to Be Good: The Letters of Arthur Rimbaud (2003); biographies by E. Starkie (3d ed. 1961, repr. 1968), G. Robb (2000), and E. White (2008); studies by W. M. Frohock (1963), W. Fowlie (1966), R. G. Cohn (1974), K. Ross (1980), C. A. Hackett (1981), and C. Nicholl (1999).

Rimbaud, Arthur


Born Oct. 20, 1854, in Charleville; died Nov. 10, 1891, in Marseille. French poet.

Rimbaud grew up in a petit bourgeois environment. He studied in a lycée until 1871 but did not graduate. His poetry was influenced by T. de Banville, V. Hugo, and especially C. Baudelaire. Rimbaud sarcastically attacked the petite bourgeoisie in “The Assessors,” the Second Empire in “Caesar’s Rage” and religion in “The Punishment of Tartuffe” and “Evil.” He expressed hopes that society would become reorganized under the Republic in “The Blacksmith.”

Rimbaud’s subsequent disillusionment with the government of “national betrayal” brought on a personal crisis early in 1871. Periods of despair and ostentatious cynicism alternated with dreams of the supernatural power of a clairvoyant poet who could show humanity the way to a harmonious world order. The Paris Commune of 1871 gave Rimbaud renewed faith in social progress. He attempted to take a personal part in the struggle, and wrote such masterpieces of French revolutionary poetry as “Parisian Battle Song,” “Paris Is Filled With People Again,” and “The Hands of Jeanne-Marie” (1871). His poetry became imbued with realistic imagery, psychological insights, and satire, as seen in “The Seven-year-old Poets,” “Poor People in Church,” “The Sisters of Charity,” and the satirical verses in the Album Zutique. The onset of reaction had a detrimental effect on Rimbaud’s emotional state and his development as a poet.

Rimbaud’s transition to symbolism was seen in “The Drunken Ship” and the “Sonnet on Vowels.” During his symbolist period, he wrote Last Verses (1872) and the prose poems The Illuminations (written 1872–73, published 1886). The book A Season in Hell (1873), which combined a tragic stylistic incoherence with a devastating critique of symbolism, prepared the way for the poetic realism of the 20th century.

In the second half of the 1870’s, Rimbaud abandoned literature and after a long period of wandering was obliged in 1880 to become an agent of a commercial firm in Ethiopia.

During the 20th century, Rimbaud’s works have evoked a polemic between realists and modernists. The best of his poetic tradition influenced G. Apollinaire, P. Eluard, and the poets of the Resistance.


Oeuvres [2nd ed.]. Paris [1964].
Oeuvres. Paris [1966].
In Russian translation:
Stikhotvoreniia. Moscow, 1960.
[“Stikhi.”] In Ten’ derev’ev: Stikhi zarubezhnykh poetov v per. I. Erenburga. Moscow, 1969.


Livshits, B. K. Ot romantikov do siurrealistov. Leningrad [1934].
Balashov, N. “Rembo.” In Istoriia frantsuzskoi literatury, vol. 3. Moscow, 1959.
Balashov, N. “Blez Sandrar i problema poeticheskogo realizma XX v.” In B. Sandrar, Po vsemu miru. Moscow, 1974.
Etiemble, R., and Y. Gauclère. Rimbaud. Paris, 1950.
Fowlie, W. Rimbaud: [A critical study]. Chicago-London [1967].
Gascar, P. Rimbaud et la Commune. [Paris, 1971.]
Europe, 1973, no. 529–30. (Issue dedicated to Rimbaud.)


References in periodicals archive ?
The Love of Arthur Rimbaud to the Master of Silence" In the mountain where the stars die forests that existed one thousand years ago with black hair like the moon and the afternoon breeze when the softness enters like flower petals that stand over the sleeping dead and repeat mysteriously: "On the calm black water where the stars are sleeping White Ophelia floats like a great lily" half-out of the earth like an infinitely opened eye dead a year ago since the moon was born dead a day ago since the rose was born dead a dream ago, dead a gesture ago against the blowing of the night trees it touched the infant breast of the spring and mysteriously repeated "O pale Ophelia
The title is from a phrase by the French poet Arthur Rimbaud to describe his method of writing and sees the dancers switching between quiet contemplation to sudden rushes of movement.
Rimerlain: French poets Arthur Rimbaud and the Paul Verlaine had a short-lived, torrid romance involving buckets of booze, drugs, and ultimately, bullets.
IN 1873, when French poet Arthur Rimbaud was staying in London with his more famous lover Paul Verlaine, the spark-striking and strategically untruthful nineteen-year-old added two years to his age so that he could pass through a set of doors normally closed to minors.
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La cifra resulta escandalosa si se tiene en cuenta que el unico libro que Arthur Rimbaud publico durante su vida fue <<Una temporada en el infierno>>, editado a expensas del propio poeta (6).
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In this brief expose, I attempt to right a wrong of recent literary history, demonstrating that a scandalous episode from the youth of the immortal poete maudit Arthur Rimbaud involving a certain glass of milk, a certain bodily fluid, and the bohemian composer etienne Cabaner, recounted most recently in the authoritative biography by the celebrated Graham Robb, in fact never took place.
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Obviously Diana includes a clip from Arthur Rimbaud - another iconoclast - perceiving the French poet of Le Bateau Ivre as a man who mirrored Picasso's relentless sexual drive.
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Esta antitesis opera de manera admirable en el epigrafe de Arthur Rimbaud que encabeza "La jaula mortal": "Las heridas escarlatas y negras brillan/estallan en las carnes magnificas/soberbias.