Arthur Rimbaud

A sample exercise in short-form biography writing for a client. ◊◊

Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891)

Jean Nicolas Arthur Rimbaud was a French poet whose groundbreaking use of synesthetic description and evocative imagery pioneered the French Symbolist movement. His 1873 Un Saison en Enfer (A Season in Hell) is considered to demonstrate the first instance of free verse in modern European literature. Even though Rimbaud wrote his entire body of work in the time between his sixteenth and twentieth birthday, his influence became immense. Writers and musicians who cite him as a major source of inspiration include JD Salinger, Jack Kerouac, Vladamir Nabokov, Bob Dylan, The Clash, and Patti Smith.

Even in childhood, Rimbaud was a prodigious and award-winning writer whose tempestuous personality resulted in radical stylistic approaches and iconoclastic themes. He particularly admired the poets William Blake, Charles Baudelaire, and Paul Verlaine—who would later become Rimbaud’s lover and the posthumous publisher of his complete works.

Since his death, Rimbaud has grown in fame and popular regard. He has been the subject of a number of biographies by recognized writers; these titles include Ezra Pound’s Instigations: Arthur Rimbaud (1920), Henry Miller’s The Time of Assassins: A Study of Rimbaud (1946), and Bruce Duffy’s biographic novel Disaster Was My God (2011). In 2012, the Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet John Ashbery published his new translation of Rimbaud’s final volume of poetry, Illuminations (1895).

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