The gun Paul Ver­laine used to shoot Arthur Rim­baud

Malta Independent - - LIFESTYLE ON SATURDAY - Auc­tion: The Ex­cep­tional Sale – 30 Novem­ber 2016 at 6pm at Christie’s, 9 av­enue Matignon – 75008 – Paris Pub­lic view­ing: Satur­day 26, Mon­day 28, Tues­day 29 from 10am to 6pm and Wed­nes­day 30 from 10am to 3pm

O n 30 Novem­ber, Christie’s Paris will fea­ture the gun Paul Ver­laine bought with the in­ten­tion of killing his friend Arthur Rim­baud. This gun will be of­fered in The Ex­cep­tional Sale at €50,000-70,000.

Paul Ver­laine had bought the gun on the morn­ing of 10 July 1873 from a gun­smith in Brus­sels. In the af­ter­noon, he at­tempted to mur­der Arthur Rim­baud but only man­aged to reach his wrist. Rim­baud then spent ten days in hos­pi­tal, and Ver­laine was sent to jail for two years.

The po­ets had known each other since 1871 and were in­sep­a­ra­ble. Ver­laine was mar­ried to Mathilde Mauté, but hardly en­joyed daily life. To­gether, they de­cided to flee to Lon­don where in May and June 1873, Ver­laine and Rim­baud ar­gued vi­o­lently. On 3 July, Ver­laine left Lon­don to find refuge in Brus­sels, where Rim­baud soon joined him. They kept fight­ing and Rim­baud de­cided to re­turn to Paris. How­ever, be­fore he could do so, Ver­laine shot him twice, shout­ing “here’s for you, since you are leav­ing!”.

Rim­baud called for help and the po­lice ar­rested ev­ery­one. The story of this ‘Brus­sels Af­fair’ is well doc­u­mented as state­ments and de­po­si­tions taken at the time are now kept at the Royal Li­brary in Bel­gium. As for the gun, seized by the po­lice, it was given back to its orig­i­nal gun­smith for a bal­lis­tic re­port. It is marked with se­rial n°14096, which matched Ver­laine’s name in the gun­smith’s reg­istry book, later handed to the po­lice sta­tion when it closed in 1981.

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