Rimbaud was a name that I had often heard but never truly known. He was a the first of the modern French poets, a libertine and a home wrecker. All that before he turned 20. Arthur Rimbaud, abandoned his groundbreaking poetry after four spectacular years in his teens and died at 37 in 1891. He “still stands out, the angel and enigma of French literature.” Today he is revered by advent guard artists: Pablo Picasso, Dylan Thomas, Allen Ginsberg, Vladimir Nabokov, Bob Dylan,Patti Smith, Giannina Braschi, Léo Ferré, Henry Miller, Van Morrison and Jim Morrison among others have been influenced by his poetry and life.
After he rejected his lover respected French poet Paul Verlaine, Verlaine shot Rimbaud and so was imprisoned for two years. Completely rejecting all literature Rimbaud ends up in Abyssinia (Somalia) a businessman and gun runner until cancer in his leg forces his return to France and there kills him.
Parts of the book need skimming. The way Duffy uses time forwards and backs are not smoothly done. But still worth a read especially if you have an interest in Rimbaud.