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Arthur Rimbaud: Selected Works in Translation by A. S. Kline. Illustrated with photography from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Rimbaud’s poetry developed and extended the symbolist legacy of Baudelaire, who with apolitical intensity had responded to the challenge of modernity in verse embodying a new and darker vision. Rimbaud in his early verse expresses a lyrical and sensuous relationship with his subject matter, using conventional verse forms as Baudelaire had, to explore unconventional, modernist patterns of thought and behaviour. While seemingly adolescent in some respects, the poetry is also astoundingly mature, both as poetry and in exposing his underlying discontent with French provincial life and culture.
In his later work, Rimbaud used prose as a poetic medium to express a mounting disgust with conventional existence and the deadened spiritual state of nineteenth-century Europe, in an extremist, semi-incantatory mode of literature, aimed at deranging the senses while provoking the intellect. It is a form of writing that strongly influenced the Dadaist and Surrealist movements, which further challenged common sense and extolled the dislocation of perception.
The energy that produced the poetry was then directed elsewhere. Through disgust with his previous existence and the artificiality of literature, through an inability perhaps to take the content of his poetry any further creatively, Rimbaud abandoned his writing, in symbolic renunciation, and effectively submerged himself in the practical world of trade and in alien cultures, an inner move towards the greater immediacy and emotional simplicity of those cultures paralleled in the arts by Baudelaire earlier and Gauguin later.