Rimbaud, By Edmund White

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The Independent Culture

"I, too, wanted to make men leave their wives and run off with me." Though White's hero worship of Rimbaud may have propelled him to Paris, he stopped short of becoming "a short-tempered, wilful hellion".

White's insights illuminate an account that is appropriately brilliant and brief. White suggests the Paris Commune was a profound influence on the young poet, who envisaged some "future utopia where poetry will outstrip thought".

White relishes the rich ironies of his trajectory, and notes that due to the police examination of Verlaine after his shooting of Rimbaud, "we know more about... his penis and anus than the intimate anatomy of any other major poet."