Illuminations

Illuminations

Paperback

By (author) Arthur Rimbaud, Translated by John Ashbery

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  • Publisher: Carcanet Press Ltd
  • Format: Paperback | 171 pages
  • Dimensions: 135mm x 216mm x 14mm | 229g
  • Publication date: 1 June 2011
  • Publication City/Country: Manchester
  • ISBN 10: 1847771416
  • ISBN 13: 9781847771414
  • Sales rank: 135,333

Product description

Arthur Rimbaud's "Illuminations", first published in 1886, changed the way the world is seen; in John Ashbery the book has a translator whose virtuosic originality brings Rimbaud's vision to life in English. This 'crystalline jumble', a 'disordered collection of magic lantern slides', John Ashbery writes, is the very root of modernity, 'still emitting pulses' of energy over a century after it was written. 'If we are absolutely modern - and we are - it's because Rimbaud commanded us to be.' Ashbery's rendering of the forty-four poems relays the kaleidoscopic dazzle of the original, a 'Splendide Hotel built amid the tangled heap of ice floes and the polar night', where the Witch 'will never tell us what she knows, and which we do not know'. This major new translation presents the French text in parallel and includes a preface by John Ashbery.

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Author information

Arthur Rimbaud (Jean-Nicolas-Arthur Rimbaud) was born in Charleville, France, on 20 October, 1854, the second of four children. His strict, devoutly Catholic mother came from a local farming family. His father, an army captain, permanently abandoned the family six years later. A precocious student at the local college, Rimbaud was writing verses in French and Latin by the age of fifteen. Two years later he sent some poems to the renowned poet Paul Verlaine, who responded with train fare to Paris and an invitation: 'Come, dear great soul. We summon you, we await you.' Eventually, Verlaine abandoned his wife and child and fled with Rimbaud to Belgium, then London, marking the beginning of a tumultuous love affair. Their relationship would end in Brussels a year later, after Verlaine shot Rimbaud, wounding him in the wrist. The older poet went to prison; the younger returned to his family's farm in Roche to write poetry. Though begun before Une saison en enfer, the only work he saw through publication, Illuminations would not be published until 1886, with a brief preface by Verlaine. Rimbaud may have been unaware of its publication: by that time he had abandoned Europe and poetry to spend the rest of his short life working overseas, finally settling in the Horn of Africa as a trader. On 10 November, 1891, at the age of thirty-seven, he died of cancer in Marseille following the amputation of a leg due to a tumour on his knee. Rimbaud is now considered a patron saint of symbolists and surrealists, and his works - which include Le bateau ivre (1871), Une saison en enfer (1873), and Illuminations - are widely recognised as a major influence on artists from Pablo Picasso to Bob Dylan.

Review quote

Rimbaud 's epoch-making poems come through in all their bizarre originality, their brusque, unsettling freshness. --John Timpane