Rimbaud and the Third Republic

An investigation of Arthur Rimbaud's life does not support the assertion that he could "find no place under the bourgeois Third Republic." He lived sixteen years under the Second Empire. The Third Republic's first ten years (1871-81) were its most conservative, during which Rimbaud traveled to nine or ten European countries. A trip to Djakarta took eight months and to Cyprus six months. Thus Rimbaud spent almost as much time outside the Republic as in it. Social conditions elsewhere did not differ greatly from those in France. Turning his back not on France but upon all Western civilization, he spent his last years (1881-91) in a country with no bourgeois class, Ethiopia. He did so for reasons much more personal than anything as abstract as the dominant ideology of bourgeois idealism. He probably was concerned by failure to do his military service revealed in letters of 1881 and 1891. (FCSTA)

St. Aubyn, F. C
Volume 1976-1977 Fall-Winter; 5(1-2): 94-99.