Poet's infamous gun on auction block - Times LIVE
Sat Apr 29 19:23:27 SAST 2017

Poet's infamous gun on auction block

AGENCY STAFF | 2016-12-01 23:52:48.0
The revolver with which French poet Paul Verlaine tried to kill his lover Arthur Rimbaud is displayed at Christie's auction house before the most famous gun in French literature goes under the hammer in Paris on November 30, 2016.
Image by: Thomas Samson

The most famous gun in French literature - the revolver Paul Verlaine used to try to kill his lover and fellow poet, Arthur Rimbaud - was due to go under the hammer in Paris yesterday.

Christie's estimates the 7mm weapon could fetch up to €60,000 (about R1-million) .

Verlaine bought it in Brussels on July 10 1873, determined to put an end to his two-year affair with his teenage lover.

The 29-year-old poet had abandoned his young wife and child to be with Rimbaud, who was 10 years his junior.

But after an opium- and absinthe-soaked stay in London, which would inspire Rimbaud's A Season in Hell, Verlaine wanted to go back to his wife.

He fled to the Belgian capital to get away from Rimbaud only for the younger man to follow him.

It was in a Brussels hotel room that a tear-sodden, drunken row broke out - according to Rimbaud - and the suicidal Verlaine raised the pistol.

He fired twice at Rimbaud, one bullet hitting him in the wrist. The other ricocheted up a chimney.

But Rimbaud still wouldn't take "no" for an answer.

After being bandaged up in hospital he again begged the author of Poemes Saturniens not to leave him.

Verlaine pulled out the revolver again and threatened him with it in the street.

He was arrested by a passing policeman and sentenced to two years in jail with hard labour.

The confiscated gun found its way into the hands of a private collector, Christie's said.



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