Monday, October 3, 2011

Rebel Without A Clause? Review of 'Rimbaud in Java'

Writer Jamie James attempted to fictionalize his research for a novel,  after nine years of investigation, but ultimately he abandoned make-believe dialogue for the dogged truth.  That's a reporter. The book is released this week, and I got a chance to review it.

Long before Rambo, there was Rimbaud.
In fact, the poet Arthur Rimbaud can be seen as a kind of anti-Rambo: a literary child prodigy, army deserter, and blue-eyed French fop.
Consider "Bad Blood": A Season in Hell.

It sounds like an appropriate title for a Sly Stallone action movie sequel, but the punchy phrases are taken from an extraordinary prose poem, self-published by an openly gay teenager in 1873, which still is considered a milestone in French literature.

Jamie James's latest book, Rimbaud in Java-The Lost Voyage,  details the poet Arthur Rimbaud's inspiration and desperation to keep a low profile in a weird bygone Java replete with magic and carnal mysticism, then traces his travels back to Europe incognito as a deckhand aboard a steamer. Detours into sexual deviancy in the Victorian age and amorous French attitudes towards Orientalism and Islam are relevant and gripping.

Arthur Rimbaud, decadent teen poet

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