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Patti Smith Has Just Bought A Part Of Arthur Rimbaud’s Domain In Northern France

Patti Smith and Rimbaud


The American singer and performer Patti Smith worships French poets. On March 20th, she demonstrated once again her passion for poetry and specially for 19th poet Arthur Rimbaud. The heiress of the Beat Generation has just bought a house built on the ruins of a farm in which the French poet used to live in northern France.

Figure of symbolism and French literature, the poet is known to have frequented the small village of Roche, in the Ardennes, not far away from Charleville Mézières. At that time, Rimbaud and his sister inherited there a farm from their mother. It is in his mother’s family barn that Rimbaud wrote his major works such as “The Sleeper of the Valley” (1870), “The Drunk Boat” (1871) or “A Season in Hell” (1873). The original farm was bombed by the Germans during World War I. Today, there is nothing left from the family house, excepted a vestige of a wall located on the neighboring plot. Since then, another house was reconstructed on the same site, and became a place of pilgrimage for literature lovers. But the tiny house has been abandoned for a long time.

Patti Smith is from now on the new owner of this domain which was for sale since last September. If the news was made official last week, the deal has been decided on February 15th, 2017, during the venue of the singer for the GéNéRiQ festival in eastern France. For this itinerant festival, Patti Smith moreover gave a surprising concert in the futuristic white chapel built by Le Corbusier in Ronchamp, near Belfort.

As the godmother of the Rimbaud Museum in Charleville Mézières since 2011, she had recently asked Alain Tourneux, president of the Association of the Friends of Rimbaud, to inform her if the house of the poet would come on the real estate market. He told on a French newspaper :
“Patti Smith had shown her interest for Roche since 2004, she took a lot of photos. I warned her that the house was for sale in October 2016.”

According to the former director of the Rimbaud Museum, the house offers no “particular character” except its location and its historical value. Rimbaud came back several times to Roche, specially in 1873 after having been hurt in Brussels by Verlaine, to finish the writing of “A Season in Hell” and in July, 1891, a few months before his death.

This purchase strengthens the already narrow links between the artist and Charleville Mézières, since a first pilgrimage in 1973. “I adopted him as my fellow countryman, my brother and even my secret lover”, she remembers in “Just Kids”, the book she wrote and published in 2010.

Patti Smith did not specify yet what she planned to do with this symbolic place. From now on, Rimbaud, or at least his ghost, is also his roommate.

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