The only book that Arthur Rimbaud ever published in his own lifetime was produced in Brussels: Une saison en enfer (A season in hell), a masterwork of French literature. The Belgian capital also became the stage for his conflict with Paul Verlaine. Their early passionate relationship reached its tragic zenith in a Brussels hotel room. The two poets had a blazing row. Verlaine fired two shots at Rimbaud from a revolver, and the two men ended up at the police station. The police had them empty their wallets. Beautiful love letters subsequently appeared on the table from each of the lovers. Verlaine was gaoled for two years in Bergen prison. Rimbaud shut himself away in Roche. He completed Une saison en enfer at his mothers farmhouse. He had the manuscript printed at his own expense at a small publishers in Brussels. Not long afterwards, Rimbaud bade farewell to literature and traversed Europe, ultimately seeking his salvation in Africa. One of French poetrys most fascinating episodes was embodied in the statement filed at the Brussels police station.
At the time of the 150th anniversary of Arthur Rimbauds birth, a series of exceptional documents were brought together about the poet: photographs, prints, archive material, handwritten letters and poems. The legal and literary value of the Brussels dossier is of key importance.
This booklet was produced to accompany the exhibition at the Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels (27 February16 May 2004)