cover image Rimbaud: The Double Life of a Rebel

Rimbaud: The Double Life of a Rebel

Edmund White, . . Atlas, $24 (192pp) ISBN 978-1-934633-15-1

Here is a lean, incisive biographical-critical book by one of our outstanding literary commentators. In compelling personal writing, White (Genet: A Biography ) shows how one of the heroes of French culture, Arthur Rimbaud (1854–1891), led a double life—in many forms. He who famously declared, “I is another,” abruptly abandoned the literary life, virtually as a teenager, for more than 15 years until his death. Unconventionally beautiful, from a provincial middle-class background and something of a mama's boy, the lover of Paul Verlaine was bisexual and secretly craved conventional worldly success even as his aesthetic was in the Symbolist “art-for-art's-sake” mode, portrayed by White as part shaman, part alcoholic and drug addict, part Catholic saint, Rimbaud remains a phenomenon in world literature. Included in this literary biography are White's superb translations of works he is discussing and fresh insights into Rimbaud's destructive relationship with Verlaine in particular, as well as with other poets, family, friends and business associates. This is a disturbing and original portrait of a man White sees as a fallen angel who misbehaved even in hell. (Oct. 6)