Rimbaud, Arthur - La Vie de Rimbaud - His death
Type of Spiritual Experience
Poet, painter and editor Pierre-Eugene Dufour (1855-1922) published under the name 'Paterne Berrichon'. He married Rirnbaud's sister Isabelle in 1897 and became his first biographer. La Vie de Jean-Arthur Rimbaud (1897) first appeared as a series of articles in La Revue Blanche between August 1896 and September 1897. It concludes by quoting a long letter by Isabelle Rimbaud describing the last months
of her brother's life, from which Symons translates here.
A description of the experience
Arthur Symons – The Symbolist Movement in Literature
La Vie de Jean-Arthur Rimbaud is full of curiosity for those who have been mystified by I know not what legends, invented to give wonder to a career, itself more wonderful than any of the inventions. The man who died at Marseilles, at the Hospital of the conception, on March 10, 1891, at the age of thirty seven, negociant [salesman], as the register of his death describes him, was a writer of genius, an innovator in verse and prose, who had written all his poetry by the age of nineteen, and all his prose by a year or two later- He had given up literature to travel hither and thither, first in Europe, then in Africa; he had been an engineer, a leader of caravans, a merchant of precious merchandise.
And this man, who had never written down a line after those astonishing early experiments, was heard, in his last delirium, talking of precisely such visions as those which had haunted his youth, and using, says his sister, 'expressions of a singular and penetrating charm’ to render these sensations of visionary countries.
Here certainly is one of the most curious problems of literature: is it a problem of which we can discover the secret?