Synopses & Reviews
First published in 1886, Arthur Rimbaud s Illuminations the work of a poet who had abandoned poetry before the age of twenty-one changed the language of poetry. Hallucinatory and feverishly hermetic, it is an acknowledged masterpiece of world literature, still unrivaled for its haunting blend of sensuous detail and otherworldly astonishment. In Ashbery's translation of this notoriously elusive text, the acclaimed poet and translator lends his inimitable voice to a venerated classic. W. H. Auden recognized the strong affinities between Ashbery's poetry and Rimbaud's Illuminations in his 1956 introduction to Ashbery's first book, Some Trees, noting that the imaginative life of the human individual stubbornly continues to live by the old magical notions. And it is here, in the crystalline jumble and disordered collection of magic lantern slides of Illuminations, as Ashbery writes in the Preface, that we can rediscover this essential lineage. Absolute modernity was for Rimbaud acknowledging the simultaneity of all of life, the condition that nourishes poetry at every second. ...] If we are absolutely modern and we are it's because Rimbaud commanded us to be.Ashbery's idiomatic and lyrical translations of these forty-four texts convey the originality of Rimbaud's vision to English-speaking readers of a new century.This slipcased edition of the new translation is limited to 100 copies. This special edition includes a 5 x 7 Giclee print, based on Ashbery's collage Promontory, which is bound into the work, where it has been signed by the author.
"Rimbaud's epoch-making poems come through in all their bizarre originality, their brusque, unsettling freshness." John Timpane
"This is a landscape not only of the imagination, but of an imagination that is still affecting us profoundly." Philadelphia Inquirer
"Meticulously faithful yet nimbly inventive. . . . We are fortunate that John Ashbery has . . . brought to it such care and imaginative resourcefulness." Charles Rosen New York Review of Books
"Rimbaud’s epoch-making poems come through in all their bizarre originality, their brusque, unsettling freshness." John Timpane
The modernist masterpiece that is Arthur Rimbaud's has been given new life with the publication of John Ashbery's "dazzling" () new translation, widely hailed as one of the literary events of the year. Presented with French text in parallel and a preface by its translator, Ashbery's rendering powerfully evokes the glittering, kaleidoscopic beauty of the original
"This may be the most beautiful book in the world, lighted from within and somehow embodying all forms of literature."--Susan Salter Reynolds,
“This may be the most beautiful book in the world, lighted from within and somehow embodying all forms of literature.”—Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times
About the Author
Unknown beyond the avant-garde at the time of his death in 1891, Arthur Rimbaud has become one of the most liberating influences on twentieth-century culture. Born Jean Nicolas Arthur Rimbaud in Charleville, France, in 1854, Rimbaud's family moved to Cours d'Orléans, when he was eight, where he began studying both Latin and Greek at the Pension Rossat. While he disliked school, Rimbaud excelled in his studies and, encouraged by a private tutor, tried his hand at poetry. Shortly thereafter, Rimbaud sent his work to the renowned symbolist poet Paul Verlaine and received in response a one-way ticket to Paris. By late September 1871, at the age of sixteen, Rimbaud had ignited with Verlaine one of the most notoriously turbulent affairs in the history of literature. Their relationship reached a boiling point in the summer of 1873, when Verlaine, frustrated by an increasingly distant Rimbaud, attacked his lover with a revolver in a drunken rage. The act sent Verlaine to prison and Rimbaud back to Charleville to finish his work on A Season in Hell. The following year, Rimbaud traveled to London with the poet Germain Nouveau, to compile and publish his transcendent Illuminations. It was to be Rimbaud's final publication. By 1880, he would give up writing altogether for a more stable life as merchant in Yemen, where he stayed until a painful condition in his knee forced him back to France for treatment. In 1891, Rimbaud was misdiagnosed with a case of tuberculosis synovitis and advised to have his leg removed. Only after the amputation did doctors determine Rimbaud was, in fact, suffering from cancer. Rimbaud died in Marseille in November of 1891, at the age of 37. He is now considered a saint to symbolists and surrealists, and his body of works, which include Le bateau ivre (1871), Une Saison en Enfer (1873), and Les Illuminations (1873), have been widely recognized as a major influence on artists stretching from Pablo Picasso to Bob Dylan.Pulitzer Prize-winning poet John Ashbery has translated many French writers, including Alfred Jarry, Pierre Reverdy, and Raymond Roussel. In 2011 he was awarded the National Book Foundation's Lifetime Achievement Award.