Rimbaud & Jim Morrison
The Rebel as Poet - A Memoir

by Wallace Fowlie

Review by laciefae

Arthur Rimbaud's original works were written first in Latin, and then in a now archaic dialect of French, which is extremely difficult to translate. Mr. Fowlie was considered one of two of the foremost translators of his work (the other being Louise Verese). Jim used to carry Mr. Fowlie’s translation of Rimbaud with him in his travels, even writing Mr. Fowlie to let him know how much the book meant to him, and to thank him for his work. Over the years, Mr. Fowlie found if he included Jim in his college seminars on Rimbaud, his students developed a much more keen interest in the subject.

Rimbaud and Jim Morrison came out of that experience. The book is in two parts; the first I found very enjoyable, being his recollection of how he came to incorporate Jim Morrison into his seminars, and his experiences with his students upon doing so. In the second section, Mr. Fowlie compares the work of the two poets. I was frankly disappointed with this section of the book, finding that the author’s critique of Jim’s work was sparse to the point of being nearly nonexistent. I had rather hoped, knowing that Jim was very moved by Rimbaud, that Mr. Fowlie would provide some insight into Rimbaud’s influence on Jim and his work. Rather, the author provided brief bios of the two poets, and a critical section on Rimbaud’s work, repeatedly stating that his work was superior to Jim’s, without providing any in-depth analysis to substantiate his opinion. I found this to be an unfortunate choice of focus for a subject which held so much promise. I can’t really fault the book for it’s lack of depth however, as it does not claim to be an in-depth look at the two poets, but rather a memoir - which in fact, it is. I have come to believe that Mr. Fowlie’s avocation for, and focused pursuit of his expertise on the symbolist poetry of Rimbaud's era left little time or inclination for him to also become well acquainted with much of the more current work which greatly influenced Jim, ie The Beat Poets. Unfortunately, I believe his assessment of Jim's work suffered for this. Its lack of depth in critical analysis of the work notwithstanding, the book is a very intresting read, and most definitely recommended for any serious fan of Jim Morrison.

Copyright 2002 by laciefae/Waiting-forthe-Sun.net