Thursday, July 14, 2011

White on Rimbaud

I finished reading Edmund White's short biography of Rimbaud (Rimbaud: The Double Life of a Rebel, 2008) while on a break in Cape Cod and found it worthy if dry. Rimbaud is an intriguing biographical subject because he is so obscure and obscurist -- for three or four years, plenty of intimate details and drama, then years without any information at all. A sudden burst of brilliance and then absolute silence except for nagging letters back home to his cold and abrupt (fed up?) mother during his ten-year period in Abyssinia. He was niggardly and friendless. I think White loved his rebelliousness and outrage and yet it seems to have been directed for naught. In the end, I felt White was distant and cool toward Rimbaud, perhaps unsympathetic. But then how could anyone have been? Yet he is considered the founder of modern French poetry.

1 comment:

DCSteve1441 said...

Thanks, Terry. Very helpful comment, though I must admit I think White is "distant and cool," to the point of chilliness, in nearly everything he writes! Nor has Rimbaud's poetry ever done much for me, though I know he has his champions. Still, he is an undeniably important figure, so perhaps one day I'll get around to reading EW's bio. Cheers, Steve