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Rimbaud the Son

Rimbaud the Son

PIERRE MICHON
JODY GLADDING
ELIZABETH DESHAYS
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 96
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5vm61r
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  • Book Info
    Rimbaud the Son
    Book Description:

    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 Sonis now masterfully translated into English, enabling a wide new audience to discover for themselves the authorPublishers Weeklycalled "one of the best-kept secrets of modern French prose."

    eISBN: 978-0-300-19907-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. TRANSLATORS’ INTRODUCTION
    (pp. ix-xiv)

    Take it into your head to write a preface to Rimbaud, writes Pierre Michon, and your wings fall off; you start quoting the saints of the almanac. Duly warned, we proceed with caution and will be brief.Rimbaud le fils(Rimbaud the Son) was published in France in 1991, seven years after Michon’s first book,Vies minuscules(Small Lives).Vies minusculeswon Michon immediate acclaim and was quickly followed by other successes;Rimbaud le filswas his fifth published work. Although still relatively unknown to readers in the United States, Michon is widely recognized in Europe as one of France’s...

  4. 1 IT IS SAID THAT VITALIE RIMBAUD, NÉE CUIF
    (pp. 1-8)

    It is said that Vitalie Rimbaud, née Cuif, country girl and bad-natured woman, suffering and bad-natured, gave birth to Arthur Rimbaud. It is not known if she cursed first and suffered after, or if she cursed at having to suffer and persisted in that malediction; or if, joined like the fingers on her hand, curse and suffering overlapped in her mind, switched places, reinforced one another, so that, irritated by their touch, she crushed her life, her son, her living and her dead between her dark fingers. But it is known that the husband of this woman who was the...

  5. 2 AND AMONG ALL THOSE AWARDS DAY FIGURES
    (pp. 9-16)

    And among all those Awards Day figures, the seventeenth-century wigs, the beards of 1830, Racine, Hugo, the others, whose busts at that time sat on pianos, behind large bouquets of peonies in the homes of genteel nightcaps who believed themselves to be poets and who were, or perhaps whose small, two-bit lithographs decorated the garrets of young greenhorn poseurs who believed themselves to be poets and who were, among all those bronze and wooden faces appears for us the poet Georges Izambard, famous in his way. Only the muse duped him, so he does not rise among the stars in...

  6. 3 NEITHER WAS IT WITHIN BANVILLE’S DOMAIN
    (pp. 17-26)

    Neither was it within Banville’s domain.

    He too appears in this story, not long after Izambard, because we know that the adolescent sent him verses, care of the publisher Lemerre, into which he had put his whole heart; and the first, no doubt, that he considered presentable to an established poet. The triumphs of Awards Day were no longer enough for him; they had served their purpose; they had nurtured in that angry heart a brutal ambition at the same time as was born there that uncertain faculty, pose or task or revelation from On High, or a bit of...

  7. 4 THAT POET, WHO NO LONGER CASTS A SHADOW
    (pp. 27-36)

    That poet, who no longer casts a shadow, thus received two letters from the very young Rimbaud, who casts upon us as great a shadow as Dante’s little bonnet casts upon the Italian language and Virgil’s laurels cast upon Dante—because men of letters are futile, timid, devout. Reading them, Banville sensed his Julien Sorel of the Ardennes at fifty leagues; and in that he was not mistaken: letters are little traps for others, just one other, whom one wants to put in one’s pocket; and Rimbaud excelled in this discipline of bird-catching. Verses are greater traps for more ineffable...

  8. 5 AGAIN WE TAKE UP THE VULGATE
    (pp. 37-54)

    Again we take up the Vulgate.

    It is said that in the fight in which he struggled every inch of the way with Carabosse, since the inner closet may not have been completely sealed, Arthur Rimbaud sometimes ran off to lose her in the Ardennes countryside; that his long strides carried him into villages as formidable and dreary as cannon fire, hand-kerchiefs stuffed into the mouth, Warcq, Voncq, Warnécourt, Pussemange, Le Theux; that he was hungry for those places, for those handkerchiefs, for those cannons, and that the verses he strewed along the way said so; that he was hungry...

  9. 6 I RETURN TO THE GARE DE L’EST
    (pp. 55-66)

    I return to the gare de l’Est. I come back to those first days in Paris where perhaps for Rimbaud, it was all played out in three short acts: his immediate reputation as a very great poet, his keen awareness of the vanity of a reputation, and its devastation.

    There was not only Verlaine. Because we know that in Paris in September from those first days Verlaine introduced him into the sort of cafés and caverns where, come evening, at marble tables,gloriassteamed and pipes smoked, beers foamed, gazettes were opened, and behind beer glasses and gazettes in the...

  10. 7 IT IS ALSO SAID THAT GERMAIN NOUVEAU, POET
    (pp. 67-80)

    It is also said that Germain Nouveau, poet; that Alfred Mérat, Raoul Ponchon, Stéphane Mallarmé, poets; that Émile Cabaner, musician; that Henri Fantin-Latour, painter; that Jacques Poot, Brabant printer; that beyond Suez, Pierre and Alfred Bardey, merchants; that César Tain, merchant; that Sotiro, lowly employee of the merchants; that Paul Soleillet and Jules Borelli, explorers; that Menelik, king; that Makonnen,ras, that is to say grand duke; that little Djami, gentle young minion; that His Grace Jarosseau, bishop inpartibus; that six nameless black Abyssinians running toward the sea with a stretcher on their backs; that on this side of...

  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 81-81)