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    Rimbaud in Abyssinia review []  2020-1-16 12:41

    For anyone as obsessed as Borer is with Rimbaud's disappearance into Africa, the silence of genius, this is a haunting book. In a latest fit of downsizing, I gave away my copy, thinking that I could live without it. I was wrong; I ordered another copy within the ensuing week. Borer's prose is a gorgeous meditation on Rimbaud, interwoven with excerpts from the poetry of the enfant terrible. Of course, I realize that what I am truly reading is poet Rosmarie Waldrop's incandescent translation of Borer's book. Her translations of both Borer and Rimbaud are sublime. As Borer reminds us early on in his book, the journey to follow Rimbaud into Abyssinia is not a journey to search him, but one to search ourselves: a journey well worth taking.

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    Rimbaud in Abyssinia review []  2020-1-16 12:41

    Obtain past the mythology and deep into Rimbaud's adventures in Ethiopia. A literary detective story that reveals the poet in a whole fresh light.

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    Rimbaud in Abyssinia review []  2020-1-16 12:41

    It is a very private book. Life experience, especially of living in remote, very various places, rather than just touring them searching for one own and somebody's life, may have helped to understand and describe better the choices and the life of Rimbaud.

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    Rimbaud in Abyssinia review []  2020-1-16 12:41

    This is a most perceptive acc of the latest days of AR. I found the sections detailing Borer's own pilgrimage to Ethiopia far less interesting than the main narrative, which itself is marred by the denial that Rimbaud was involved in the slave-trade. We have R's letter to Alfred Ilg (who used slaves himself) demanding, in December 1889, 'a very amazing mule and two slave boys'. But in the Horn of Africa at this period slavery was nothing at all like the nightmare institution of the southern USA, which at the same time does not mean that slaves had unbelievable lives, far from it. But the culture of Ethiopia was innured to this form of slavery, Ethiopians normally bought their servants. Sadly, it suited Rimbaud to conform to the practice and his biographers have to deal with that reality.

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    Rimbaud in Abyssinia review []  2020-1-16 12:41

    Having read Fowlie, Miller, Starkie, as well as the more latest British biographies, I still come back to this timeless, intricate, beautifully written (and translated) meditation on Rimbaud. Borer succeeds in linking the adult tradesman and adventurer with the kid poet and voyeur. He also does a brilliant job defending Rimbaud from Enid Starkie's mid-20th century libel, proving that the "poet turned slave trader" is not only a myth, but a horrible lie. Most of all, Borer, more than any other biographer, asks the most necessary questions, the kind of questions meant to remain open, mysterious, unanswered. A must-read for anyone who treasures Arthur Rimbaud (and the mystery that was his latest 17 years).

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