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Illuminations

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Overview

With perfect pitch for contemporary readers, Donald Revell's new translation of The Illuminations offers all the immediacy, hallucinatory surreality, and wit of the intimate particularity that secured Rimbaud's position as a major poet renowned for his strangely seductive power and innocence. Rimbaud was a dangerous and exhilarating force whose break with literary forms and conventions changed forever the way poems would be read and written. Published with the French on facing pages and with an insightful ...
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Illuminations

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Overview

With perfect pitch for contemporary readers, Donald Revell's new translation of The Illuminations offers all the immediacy, hallucinatory surreality, and wit of the intimate particularity that secured Rimbaud's position as a major poet renowned for his strangely seductive power and innocence. Rimbaud was a dangerous and exhilarating force whose break with literary forms and conventions changed forever the way poems would be read and written. Published with the French on facing pages and with an insightful afterward by the translator, Donald Revell plunges readers into the heart of Rimbaud's mysterious, revelatory beauty. This lucid and lively translation of a seminal work will show current readers of English all the ways that Rimbaud's incandescence remains essential and relevant today.
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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.
Publishers Weekly
The prose poems of Illuminations include Rimbaud's most exotic ecstasies and most insistent contradictions, as well as (most likely) his last completed works: "crystal boulevards rise up and intersect, immediately populated by poor families who shop for groceries at the fruit seller's," while "the inevitable descent of the sky and visiting memories and the séance of rhythms occupy the home, the head and the world of the mind." Some may wonder whether we need yet another version of this much-translated book. But anything Ashbery does deserves attention, given his own towering reputation. Ashbery also lived in France for much of the 1960s and has translated several French moderns before. His versions of Rimbaud can be playful, even flirtatious, with an undercurrent of malice wholly true to the original ("Very robust rascals" for "Des drôles très solides"), and they pay attention to the ear: the poem "Bottom," for example, begins with a tussle of long "e" and short "i" sounds: "Since reality was too prickly for my lavish personality." Ashbery's Rimbaud (perhaps paired with Donald Revell's) should spark fresh discussion of the mercurial and evasive original, given often to dreamy reverie, yet just as likely to turn and spit in the unsuspecting reader's face. Presented with the original French en face. (Apr.)
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: 9780811201841
  • Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 2/28/1988
  • Pages: 1
  • Sales rank: 960,873
  • Product dimensions: 5.22 (w) x 8.12 (h) x 0.58 (d)

Meet the Author

A volatile and peripatetic poet, the prodigy ARTHUR RIMBAUD wrote all of his poetry in a space of less than five years. His poem "Voyelles" invoked synesthesia, marking him as a founder of French symbolism, and his Une Saison en Enfer (A Season in Hell) is considered one of the first works of free verse. His poetry was subconsciously inspired and highly suggestive; his persona was caustic and unstable. Though brilliant, during his life his peers regarded him as perverse, unsophisticated, and youthfully arrogant, and he died virtually indifferent to his own work.

DONALD REVELL is Professor of English & Director of Creative Writing programs at UNLV. Thief of Strings is his tenth poetry collection, published by Alice James. Twice winner of the PEN Center USA Award for Poetry, he has also won the Academy of American Poets Lenore Marshall Prize and is a former fellow of the Ingram Merrill and Guggenheim Foundations. Additionally, he has twice been granted fellowships in poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts. Donald Revell's previous translations include A Season in Hell by Arthur Rimbaud (Omnidawn 2007), which won the PEN USA Translation Award. He has also translated The Self-Dismembered Man: Selected Later Poems by Guillame Apollinaire, and Alcools: Poems by Guillame Apollinaire, both published by Wesleyan University Press. His books of essays include Invisible Green: Selected Prose, published by Omnidawn. Former editor-in-chief of Denver Quarterly, he now serves as poetry editor of Colorado Review. Revell lives in the desert south of Las Vegas with his wife, poet Claudia Keelan, and their children Benjamin Brecht and Lucie Ming.

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Table of Contents

Après le déluge / After the Flood
Enfance / Childhood
Conte / Tale
Parade / Circus Parade
Antique / Antique
Being Beauteous / Being Beauteous
Vies / Lives
Départ / Departure
Royauté / Royalty
À une raison / To a Reason
Matinee d’ivresse / Morning of Drunkenness
Phrases / Phrases
Ouvriers / Workers
Les Ponts / The Bridges
Ville / City
Ornières / Ruts
Villes (Ce sont des villes!...) / Cities
Vagabonds / Vagabonds
Villes (L’acropole officielle...) / Cities
Veillées / Vigils
Mystique / Mystic
Aube / Dawn
Fleurs / Flowers
Nocturne vulgaire / Crude Nocturne
Marine / Seascape
Fête d’hiver / Winter Festival •Angoisse / Agony
Métropolitain / Metropolitan •Barbe / Barbarian
Promontoire / Promontory
Scènes / Scenes
Soir historique / Historic Evening
Mouvement / Movement
Bottom / Bottom
H / H
Dévotion / Devotion
Démocratie / Democracy
Fairy / Fairy
Guerre / War
Génie / Genie
Jeunesse / Youth
Solde / Going Out of Business
Translator’s Afterword
Index of French Titles
Index of English Titles
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