Illuminations

Illuminations

by Arthur Rimbaud
     
 

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The definitive translation of the one of the brightest geniuses of French poetry.
The prose poems of the great French Symbolist, Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891), have acquired enormous prestige among readers everywhere and have been a revolutionary influence on poetry in the twentieth century. They are offered here both in their original texts and in superb English…  See more details below

Overview

The definitive translation of the one of the brightest geniuses of French poetry.
The prose poems of the great French Symbolist, Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891), have acquired enormous prestige among readers everywhere and have been a revolutionary influence on poetry in the twentieth century. They are offered here both in their original texts and in superb English translations by Louise Varese. Mrs. Varese first published her versions of Rimbaud’sIlluminationsin 1946. Since then she has revised her work and has included two poems which in the interim have been reclassified as part ofIlluminations. This edition also contains two other series of prose poems, which include two poems only recently discovered in France, together with an introduction in which Miss Varese discusses the complicated ins and outs of Rimbaldien scholarship and the special qualities of Rimbaud’s writing. Rimbaud was indeed the most astonishing of French geniuses. Fired in childhood with an ambition to write, he gave up poetry before he was twenty-one. Yet he had already produced some of the finest examples of French verse. He is best known forA Season in Hell, but his other prose poems are no less remarkable. While he was working on them he spoke of his interest in hallucinations––"des vertiges, des silences, des nuits." These perceptions were caught by the poet in a beam of pellucid, and strangely active language which still lights up––now here, now there––unexplored aspects of experience and thought.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Celebrated poet Revell (The Bitter Withy) received the 2007 PEN USA Translation Award for his ravishing take on Rimbaud's A Season in Hell. Rendered into English with utmost sympathy and flare, this bilingual edition of Rimbaud's prose masterpiece is sure to receive comparable acclaim. Considered by many to be the infamous French wunderkind's highest achievement, the book's (mostly) prose poems present the still teenage poet's acrobatic efforts to resist the stranglehold of habit, logic and bourgeois respectability: “I've strung ropes from steeple to steeple; garlands from window to window; golden chains from star to star, and I'm dancing.” Revell's version is no more or less accessible than previous translations, and dips into the contemporary idiom are thankfully infrequent and unobtrusive. What distinguishes Revell's work is its exquisite, carefully modulated musicality. His phrasing is rich and fluid (“The soft perfume of the stars and of the sky and of everything drifts down from the hilltop”) or crisp and strident (“Unsought air and unsought world. Life./ —Was that it, then?/ —And the dream grows cold”), in perfect keeping with the protean, inestimably influential original, making this among the finest of its English translations yet produced. (Sept.)
Prick of the Spindle Web Magazine
I have yet to come across a better living translator working in French today, and I wholeheartedly recommend Revell's translations to francophone and English-speaking readers alike.
John Timpane - Philadelphia Inquirer
“Rimbaud’s epoch-making poems come through in all their bizarre originality, their brusque, unsettling freshness.”
Charles Rosen - New York Review of Books
“This is a landscape not only of the imagination, but of an imagination that is still affecting us profoundly.”
Lydia Davis - New York Times Book Review
“Meticulously faithful yet nimbly inventive. . . . We are fortunate that John Ashbery has . . .
brought to it such care and imaginative resourcefulness.”
Philadelphia Inquirer
Rimbaud’s epoch-making poems come through in all their bizarre originality, their brusque, unsettling freshness.— John Timpane
New York Review of Books
This is a landscape not only of the imagination, but of an imagination that is still affecting us profoundly.— Charles Rosen
New York Times Book Review
Meticulously faithful yet nimbly inventive. . . . We are fortunate that John Ashbery has . . .
brought to it such care and imaginative resourcefulness.— Lydia Davis
From the Publisher

"What distinguishes Revell's [translation of The Illuminations] is its exquisite, carefully modulated musicality . . . in perfect keeping with the protean, inestimably influential original, making this among the finest of its English translations yet produced."  —Publishers Weekly

"What a blessing to be given Donald Revell's revelling again in the work of Rimbaud, this time in The Illuminations, Rimbaud's ecstatic vision of life on earth and its end. His 'further gospel' (following that of Jesus of Nazareth) proclaims not hope, but happiness. And all in Revell's brilliantly buoyant natural language, and, as in A Season in Hell, the gift of his risky and devoted Translator's Afterword."  —Jean Valentine, poet

"I have yet to come across a better living translator working in French today, and I wholeheartedly recommend Revell’s translations to francophone and English-speaking readers alike."  —Prick of the Spindle Web Magazine

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781291206517
Publisher:
Lulu.com
Publication date:
11/17/2012
Sold by:
LULU PRESS
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
317 KB

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What People are saying about this

Norma Cole
“Divided as it still is among its several collectors, the manuscript of Illuminations, ‘a sheaf of loose, unnumbered sheets,’ (Félix Fénéon) was not exactly a book, and may not actually have been called Illuminations, or The Illuminations, but that is another story. In this new translation, Donald Revell becomes neo-alchemical transpositions of Arthur Rimbaud. He fancifully exhibits dreams and hallucinations, new elliptical ultrasounds ending ‘with angels of fire and ice.’ Revell’s dedicated translation presents these astonishing prose poems ‘bedecked with flags and flowers’.”
Cole Swensen
“Finally, a translation that brings Rimbaud, entire and vital, into English. In his masterful and acutely intuitive treatment of this classic, Donald Revell has caught the immediacy of tone and the jarring, often downright alarming juxtapositions and word choices that make Rimbaud's work still so unnervingly modern. Revell has made these familiar poems no longer familiar, but strange and raw—what a pleasure to be able to discover them all over again!”
Jean Valentine
“What a blessing to be given Donald Revell's revelling again in the work of Rimbaud, this time in The Illuminations, Rimbaud's ecstatic vision of life on earth and its end. His "further gospel" (following that of Jesus of Nazareth) proclaims not hope, but happiness. And all in Revell's brilliantly buoyant natural language, and, as in A Season in Hell, the gift of his risky and devoted Translator's Afterword.”

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Meet 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.

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