From Jon Savage’s Teenage – The Creation of Youth Culture:
Rimbaud was the poet of France’s darkest days. During the winter of 1870-71, Arthur Rimbaud lived on the front line of the Franco-Prussian War, in the small town of Charleville near the Belgian border. On New Year’s Eve, his family sheltered in their house while Prussian shells pounded the nearby medieval fortress of Mézières, just across the river Meuse from Charleville. At the age of 16, Rimbaud was surrounded by the detritus of war: maimed soldiers, smashed cities, disfigured landscapes.
He reveled in the destruction. “I saw a sea of flames and smoke rise to heaven”, he later wrote, “and left and right all wealth exploded like a billion thunderbolts.” As the second son of a French army colonel who had deserted the family ten years earlier, Rimbaud had more than enough reason not to…
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