Rimbaud by Graham Robb

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The Independent Culture

This vastly enjoyable biography of poetry's bad boy is suffused with dark humour. Rimbaud had a "talent for maintaining a permanent state of crisis" – in other words, a nutter. The "playful" stabbing sessions with Verlaine culminated in Rimbaud being shot in the arm by his pal. Robb drily notes that the first essay on Rimbaud was a doctor's account of the wound. The poetry stops on page 288. His final 11 years in Africa were marked by "rage and violence", not to mention arson and amputation.

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