Somebody Else

Arthur Rimbaud in Africa 1880-91

Charles Nicholl

Somebody Else

Charles Nicholl

352 pages | 38 halftones, 1 map, 8 line drawings | 6 x 9-1/4 | © 1997
Paper $26.00 ISBN: 9780226580296 Published May 1999 For sale in USA only
At the age of twenty-five, Arthur Rimbaud—the infamous author of A Season in Hell, the pioneer of modernism, the lover and destroyer of Verlaine, the "hoodlum poet" celebrated a century later by Bob Dylan and Jim Morrison—turned his back on poetry, France, and fame, for a life of wandering in East Africa.

In this compelling biography, Charles Nicholl pieces together the shadowy story of Rimbaud's life as a trader, explorer, and gunrunner in Africa. Following his fascinating journey, Nicholl shows how Rimbaud lived out that mysterious pronouncement of his teenage years: "Je est un autre"—I is somebody else.

"Rimbaud's fear of stasis never left him. 'I should like to wander over the face of the whole world,' he told his sister, Isobelle, 'then perhaps I'd find a place that would please me a little.' The tragedy of Rimbaud's later life, superbly chronicled by Nicholl, is that he never really did."—London Guardian

"Nicholl has excavated a mosaic of semi-legendary anecdotes to show that they were an essential part of the poet's journey to become 'somebody else.' Not quite biography, not quite travel book, in the end Somebody Else transcends both genres."—Sara Wheeler, Daily Telegraph

"At the end of Somebody Else Rimbaud is more interesting and more various than before: he is not less mysterious, but he is more real."—Susannah Clapp, Observer Review
Introduction: At the Empty Inn
Part One: The Runaway
1. Desertions
2. My Ballerinas
3. Verlaine
4. 'Deux Gentlemen'
5. Hell
6. Soles of Wind
7. Alexandria & Beyond
Part Two: The Trader
8. Karani
9. Caravan No 3
10. Harar
11. Bet Rimbo
12. Dogs & Bandits
13. The Camera
14. Exploring
15. Faithful Servant
16. The Abyssinian Woman
Part Three: The Gun-Runner
17. The Labatut Affair
18. The Air of Djibouti
19. Tadjourah
20. Danakil Crossing
21. At the Court of King Menelik
22. The Way Back
23. Cairo
Part Four: The African
24. Rimbaud's Circle
25. Bazaar Fever
26. 'As for the Slaves...'
27. The Hammer Blow
28. Returning
29. The Last Journey
'Stringy Kids': A Personal Note
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