Echoes of the Beat: Unfolding the Rarity of Kerouac's Homage to Rimbaud

Special collaboration: Mélisande O'Leary   

Ah, the serendipitous joy of delving into a piece as enchanting as the 1960 Scarce First edition, First printing - Rimbaud by Beat Generation Novelist Jack Kerouac. This gem, nestled within the rich tapestry of literary history, offers a splendid exploration into the soul of one of the Beat Generation's most illustrious figures, shining a light on his profound connection with the symbolist poet Arthur Rimbaud.

Imagine, if you will, a time when the vibrant streets of San Francisco buzzed with the creative fervor of the Beat Generation. It was in this milieu that City Lights Books, founded by the legendary Lawrence Ferlinghetti, became a beacon for the avant-garde, a sanctuary for the free-spirited. It was here, in 1960, that Jack Kerouac's tribute to Rimbaud first saw the light of day—a folded broadside, eloquently simple yet profoundly impactful, printed in stark black against a backdrop of yellow paper.

This edition is not merely a book; it is a piece of art, a historical artefact that captures the essence of a bygone era. Limited to just 2,000 copies, its scarcity adds to its allure, beckoning collectors and bibliophiles to its fold. The broadside unfolds to reveal a 202-line poem, a heartfelt homage from Kerouac to Rimbaud, marking a confluence of two great poetic souls across time and space.

Kerouac, a titan of American literature, known for his spontaneous prose and the pioneering spirit that defined the Beat Generation, finds a kindred spirit in Rimbaud—a visionary French poet whose work heralded the advent of modernism. The poem, initially appearing in Yugen no. 6, is a testament to Kerouac's deep-seated admiration for Rimbaud's rebellious spirit and groundbreaking poetics.

What makes this edition truly remarkable is not just its literary significance but also its physical form. The folding broadside, designed to be both an object of beauty and a vessel of Kerouac's poignant verse, is a testament to the innovative spirit of City Lights and the Beat Generation at large. Measuring 25 x 5 inches when unfurled, it demands to be displayed, not merely read, serving as a bridge between literature and visual art.

Priced at $500, with an estimated value reaching up to $1,000, this scarce first edition represents a unique investment opportunity—not just in financial terms, but as a cultural artefact that encapsulates a pivotal moment in literary history. It beckons to those who not only seek to own a piece of the Beat legacy but also wish to immerse themselves in the passionate dialogue between Kerouac and Rimbaud, two giants who continue to inspire long after their voices have faded into the ether.

For collectors, enthusiasts, and dreamers alike, this edition of Rimbaud by Jack Kerouac is not just a purchase; it's an invitation to wander the labyrinthine streets of literary history, to revel in the beauty of poetic expression, and to own a tangible piece of the Beat Generation's indomitable spirit.

May this treasure spark joy in your heart and inspiration in your soul, as it surely does in mine. For in the world of rare and antique books, each find is not merely an addition to one's collection but a portal to another time, another life, where the echoes of history whisper the timeless tales of those who dared to dream, to write, to be.

Mélisande for MFLIBRA Antique Books Team

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