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4.1 out of 5 stars
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on April 25, 2000
This is one of my all time favorite books. I have had a Rimbaud fixation for about 20 years. I came to Rimbaud as a teen beginning what I would like to believe is a poetic journey. Then I discovered Henry Miller. Miller is my favorite American writer. Miller writing a book on Rimbaud is a dream come true. I could not ask for a better match. I have read this book straight through 10-12 times. I refer to it often. Even though--as has been noted numerous times--this is more about Miller than Rimbaud, it remains an extraordinary work. Miller writes at a lucid peak in this book. I find myself turning to it again and again. The thin volume is chockful of Henry Miller wisdom. A poor boy from Brooklyn providing a glorious study of a poor boy from Charleville. If you are interested in Miller or Rimbaud (or preferably both) this is a fine book to read. It will provide great insight into two of THE true giants of subversive, apocalyptic literature. The Dean places the Prince on a much deserved pedestal. This is poetic prose at its height--a stunning masterpiece.
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on June 18, 2000
Henry Miller did not hear Rimbaud's name until he was thirty-six years old; he did not glance at his work until six or seven years later, around the age of forty-three; and it was not until he was fifty-two years old that Miller learned the details of Rimbaud's remarkable life, for in that year Miller read both Jean-Marie Carre's "A Season in Hell" and Enid Starkie's "Rimbaud". Yet, once he discovered Rimbaud, Miller became obsessed with the poet's life and writing. "I . . . could talk of nothing but Rimbaud. Everybody who came to [my] house had to listen to the song of Rimbaud . . . " The result of this obsession was "The Time of the Assassins", a complex, brilliant and imaginative reading of the connection between Rimbaud's poetry and the engima of his life. Rimbaud is one of literature's most fascinating figures. In less than four short years, before reaching the age of twenty, he articulated a radical new view of the role of the poet, wrote poems of startling imagination (including "Le Bateau Ivre", "Une Saison en Enfer" and "Illuminations") and lived a life of archetypal bohemian rebellion. Rimbaud, in these few years, became the precursor of both French symbolism and other literary modernisms. For Miller, Rimbaud "is the father of many schools and the parent of none. It is his unique use of the symbol................" Miller, in brilliant style and with penetrating imagination, explores the foundational importance of the symbol in Rimbaud's poetry and the way in which Rimbaud, by turning his back on the writing of poetry after completing "Une Saison en Enfer", made his own life a symbol. In effect, Rimbaud's renunciation of the life of the poet made him a "living suicide". Miller links this act to a broader poetic theory which he draws from Rimbaud--that poetry no longer has efficacy in the modern world: "At the very beginning of his career he understood what others understand at the end, if at all, ............. " Rimbaud, rather than allow the purity of his poetic vision to be compromised, chose "a new form of madness--the desire for total adaptation, total conformity." By doing so, Miller suggests, Rimbaud lives the purity of a vision which can no longer be written: the poetic work becomes the poet's life; "Une Saison en Enfer" becomes Rimbaud's living hell. Miller's book is an original, penetrating and brilliant interpretation of Rimbaud's life and a wonderful complement to Enid Starkie's biography.
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on March 19, 2006
It's true, Henry Miller was no Rimbaud, but maybe for that very reason he spent much of his life grappling with Rimbaud. This book, written later in Miller's life, has something forced about it, as if Miller realized this was a book he had to write but still didn't feel up to doing Rimbaud justice. Still, at times it reaches a pitch of passionate appreciation that transcends criticism or explanation, and shows that, though he couldn't quite put it in words, Miller's soul felt a deep and abiding debt to the great Rimbaud. Miller was no Rimbaud, but he's as close in spirit and intensity as this nation has produced.
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on June 24, 2015
2 1/2 stars

I don't know how to feel about this book. I had to read it for class, and I didn't want to. However, Miller's writing was very engaging, so it was a pleasure to read. However, the topic of the book (I guess that poets/writers need to offer something better to the world) is overstated. To be fair, I did not finish the book because I had to read fourteen other books for my class.
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on December 30, 1998
This book not only tells the spell-binding tale of Rimbaud, but digs even deeper into Miller's own spiritual wonderland. Highly entertaining and insightful, I recommend this book to anybody willing to expand their minds through absolute realism, and absolute spiritualism.
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on January 8, 2006
3 stars is good for everybody though. About the first 70 to 90 pages tell you something new, the rest is HM's rhapsodizing. That in itself is valuable, but the main reason I value this book, is that here we have an artist speaking on another artist. That in itself makes it more insightful/interesting than the dreary biographies written by professors. Btw don't expect a biography here, the biographical details are scant. This is an attempt at the biography of the heart and mind. As for HM comparing himself to Rimbaud, he does so with the qualifier 'I do not have his talent' to paraphrase.
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on November 24, 2014
I am not sure whether I like this book or not.It is very personal and this is both its strength and the weakness . Something that i found very interesting and touching is the portrait of the poet an its role in society and history. Some parts of this book are truly inspirational. Others part I feel are off the tangent and not very understandable to today's reader.
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on February 27, 2012
Igore Henry Miller's comparisons of himself to Arthur Rimbaud, and enjoy everything else about this wonderful, energetic, brilliant work. Miller's insights into Rimbaud's genius, and creative genius in general, are timeless.
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on January 10, 2002
Miller's provocative work describes the anguish of the poet and outsider, drawing parallels between his own life and that of the tortured Rimbaud. Miller paints a picture of Rimbaud as the quintessential rebel who sought truth through poetry, derangement of the senses, and exile to a harsh and unforgiving landscape. Miller blends topics such as death, the adventurous life and transcendence into one compelling narrative.
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on December 2, 2008
This book isn't only for lovers of Rimbaud and/or Henry Miller, it's for anyone that is interested in writing, the life of a writer, and simply wonderful postulations. I read this book about 3 years ago and it still inspires me.
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