Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Geographies of Disability in the Letters of Rimbaud

Mapping Colonialism and Disablement in Yemen and Ethiopia

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2019), 13, (4), 445–460.

Abstract

While the poetry and tumultuous personal details of Rimbaud’s young adult life in France have received significant attention by literary scholars, his business exploits in Yemen and Ethiopia as a coffee exporter and gunrunner have received much less attention. As a result, his descriptions in his letters to family and friends of his acquirement of a disability abroad, his difficult journey home to France for a leg amputation, and his struggles to receive adequate care and adjust to life with a debilitating disability have largely been absent from mainstream and scholarly narratives of his life. Rimbaud’s experiences with a disability in Africa, the Persian Gulf, and France offer valuable insight into the intersections of migration, colonialism, and disablement at the end of the nineteenth century and aid in the historicization of medicine, medical care, and protheses. Mapping the emotional and affective geographies of Rimbaud’s embodiment of a disability reveals how his impairment impacted not only his daily activities and mood but also his prose.

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Works Cited

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Walsh, Alison, ed. Nothing Ventured: Disabled People Travel the World. London: Harrap Columbus, 1991. Print. Google Scholar

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Wilson, Thomas M. and Hastings Donnan. A Companion to Border Studies. Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012. Print. Google Scholar

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Details

Author details

O’Dell, Emily Jane