Arthur Rimbaud - Biography

Arthur Rimbaud - Biography

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Short biography - French poet of precocious genius, Rimbaud will have marked literature as much by his life, which the myth took hold of, as by his unprecedented work, at the basis of the modern poetic revolution and source of inspiration for the surrealist current. His passionate and tumultuous relationship with Verlaine would become legendary. Revolted against power, religion and war, he left at the age of only twenty a revolutionary work, aroused by passion and thirst for strong sensations. This ultimate quest will lead him to the Middle East where he will lead an adventurous life before dying in 1891 at the age of 37.


A poet's youth

Arthur Rimbaud was born on October 20, 1854 in Charleville, in the Ardennes. His father was an infantry captain, rarely present at the family home, which he finally left for good in 1860. His mother, of peasant origin and very pious, brought up her five children alone, imposing strict discipline on them. Entering college in 1865, young Arthur distinguished himself in religious education. He also excels at composing verses in Latin and secretly addresses a poem to the Imperial Prince, son of Napoleon III. By order of his mother, he takes private lessons. A teacher has a premonitory judgment concerning him “As smart as you like; but will end badly ”...

Rimbaud reads a lot, mainly poetry, with a predilection for romanticism: from lamartine to Vigny, from Victor Hugo to Musset and Baudelaire. The "Contemporary Parnassus”, A collective work published in 1866 introduced him to new poets such as Théophile Gautier, banville and… Verlaine. Enrolled in a famous institution in Charleville, Rimbaud completed a brilliant education there, winning an academic competition, while slipping towards anticlericalism. He attracts the attention of one of his teachers, George Izambard, who teaches him rhetoric. The latter encourages the young student to develop his talents as a poet. The Val sleeper will resemble the many poems written by Rimbaud at that time.

A rebellious and rebellious teenager (he read Zola), Rimbaud ran away from home to the capital, where he tried to get in touch with the circle of Parnassus, led by Banville. He arrived in Paris during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 and tried unsuccessfully to join the National Guard (he was not of legal age). Forced to return to Charleville, Rimbaud refuses to resume his schooling and to pass his baccalaureate, and returns to Paris, besieged by the Prussians. He was expected there by Théodore de Banville and especially Paul Verlaine, already convinced by the few poems that Rimbaud sent them. Equipped among others with the famous " Drunken Boat ", Rimbaud begins to frequent the Parisian literary community, where he shocks as much as he fascinates.

The Rimbaud-Verlaine couple

Quickly isolated because of his insolence and the jealousy aroused by his talent, Rimbaud clings to Verlaine who takes him in. During their affair, which has become common knowledge, he wrote numerous prose poems evoking the inner journey of the Seer carried away by hallucinations (long and immense and reasoned disorder), allowing him to reach "superhuman" sensations (The Drunken Boat, The Illuminations). In February 1872, Rimbaud, tired of the conflict with his companion's in-laws and disappointed by the literary world, put an end to his stay in Paris and settled in Charleville. In July 1872, he convinced Verlaine to abandon his wife and leave Paris for Brussels. He frequented the community of exiled Communards there and composed poems on the theme of travel.

On July 22, Verlaine is joined by his wife who tries to convince him to resume married life. Verlaine pretends to consent but leaves her to find Rimbaud. In August 1873, a police report stated: “We saw the two lovers in Brussels, openly practicing their love….” Their relationship will however be tumultuous and interspersed with many separations and reunions.

On July 10, 1873, tired of Verlaine's inconsistency, Rimbaud announced to his lover his intention to leave him permanently. Verlaine buys a revolver and, after alcohol and other stormy discussions, shoots his companion, injuring his left wrist. Tidy, Rimbaud persists in his decision to leave. On the way to the station, fearing new threats from Verlaine, he alerts a police officer. Verlaine was arrested and then jailed on July 11 for attempted assassination. Before leaving Brussels, Rimbaud renounces on July 19 all criminal, correctional and civil action against Verlaine. Rimbaud moved to Roche with his mother to finish his last collection there, A season in Hell.

Arthur Rimbaud: the man with the soles of the wind

Rimbaud gave up writing for good upon reaching adulthood, in a sudden, almost incomprehensible way. In 1874, he was in London as a tutor. The following year, he traveled to Italy and Germany, devoting himself to the intensive study of foreign languages ​​(German, Italian, Russian, Arabic). After a stay in Vienna where he was robbed of his money, Rimbaud enlisted in the Dutch army for 300 guilders and left for Java. He deserted as soon as he arrived and returned to France and Charleville on a Scottish ship.

He multiplies the adventures, which takes him to Scandinavia, Egypt, then to Cyprus, where he becomes site supervisor. In disagreement with his employers, he left for the African shores of the Red Sea “find something to do in Abyssinia". In Aden, he is hired by the Vianney company, which trades in skins, coffee and ivory. In this Arabian port, he rubs shoulders with various and underworld circles. He even embarked on trafficking. weapons, in the hope of making a fortune.

He eventually settled in Ethiopia, where he would lead for the rest of his life a strange life as an adventurous trader. In November 1891, a suspicious leg injury forced him to return to France. Amputated upon his arrival, he died at the age of thirty-seven as a result of his illness (cancer?), Leaving behind one of the most original and richest works of French literature.


- Rimbaud by Jean-Baptiste Baronian. Biography folio, 2009.

- Arthur Rimbaud: The thief of fire by Sarah Cohen-Scali. Pocket, 2007.

For further

- Arthur Rimbaud: a biography. Documentary, DVD, Arte Video, 2005.

Video: Rimbaud Collection


  1. Lyfing

    complete nonsense

  2. Pulan

    Wacker, it seems to me a remarkable idea

  3. Cerny

    you are similar to the expert)))

  4. Auriville

    That ?

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