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Further Phoenix
at Rio's Attic:

The Time of the Assassins

Henry Miller

Arthur Rimbaud

France

Volker Schlondorff
Rio's Attic: Celebrating the Life and Times of a Dearly Missed River Phoenix
American EnglishEn Français

The Time of the Assassins

by Henry Miller.
First published in 1946.


ISBN 0-8112-0115-5 (Paperback, 163 Pages)

Arthur Rimbaud was a French poet, born in 1854, who began writing verse at the age of ten. He has since become one of France's best known and original poets, with his works translated into many languages.

This book is not a biography of Rimbaud, nor even an in-depth study of his works. It is more of an autobiography of the author, Henry Miller, who compares his own life to that of Rimbaud's.

Beginning with Miller's first encounter with the works of Rimbaud, he then continues by exploring events that befell Rimbaud and contrasts them with experiences of his own. Throughout the book, the author quotes a number of extracts of Rimbaud's work in the original French.

Every writer produces some haunting passages, some memorable phrases, but with Rimbaud they are countless, they are strewn all over the pages, like gems tumbled from a rifled chest. It is this endowment which makes the link with Rimbaud indissoluble. And it is only this which I envy for. Today, after all I have written, my deepest desire is to be done with the books I have projected and give myself up to the creation of sheer nonsense, sheer fantasy. I shall never be the poet he is, but there are vast imaginative reaches still to be attained.

This title would become River's all-time favorite book. He was first introduced to it 1992 when he was approached by German director Volker Schlondorff who wanted River to star as Rimbaud in a film adaptation of the book.

River turned to this book more and more throughout the last year of his life, carrying it around with him and reportedly becoming obsessed with the similarities between Rimbaud's tormented life and that of his own.

He despised the world which wanted to acclaim him, he denied that his work had any value. But this has only one meaning - that he wanted to be taken at face value!

Whilst reading this book, one tries to put River to the back of one's mind and concentrate on Rimbaud as the author intended. River hadn't been born at the time this book was written, indeed even his parents were mere infants. As hard as we tried though, whilst engrossed within the book's pages, time and again our thoughts wandered. They would turn away from Rimbaud towards another tragic artist, an artist of more recent times, an artist who was also in crisis....

Now and then, from the deep, hidden river of life, great spirits in human form are thrown up; like semaphores in the night they warn of danger ahead. But their appeal is in vain to those "abandoned but still burning locomotives" who hold to the rails.

No matter what a fiasco he made of his own life, oddly enough I believe that if he had been given the chance he would have made the world a better place to live in. I believe that the dreamer, no matter how impractical he may appear to the man in the street, is a thousand times more capable, more efficient, than the so-called statesman.

He saw far beyond the hopes and dreams of ordinary men and statesmen alike. He lacked the support of those very people who delight in accusing him of being the dreamer, the people who dream only when they fall asleep, never with eyes wide-open. For the dreamer who stands in the very midst of reality all proceeds too slowly.

With all the effort in the world, anyone aware of the name River Phoenix and his connection with this book, will most likely fail to make a successful "study of Rimbaud" as stated on the book's front cover. For the reader, the similarities are impossible to ignore, as is the presence that is reading the book right along with them.

The little light which flickered out with his demise grew in power and intensity as the fact of his death became more largely known. He has lived more wondrously and vividly since he departed this earth than he ever did in life. One wonders, had he come back in this life, what sort of poetry he would have written, what his message would have been. It was as though, cut off in the prime of manhood, he was cheated of that final phase of development which permits a man to harmonize his warring selves. Operating under a curse for the major part of his life, fighting with all his powers to find egress into the clear, open spaces of his being, he is beaten to earth for the last time just when one feels that the clouds were lifting.


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