A Season in Hell & The Drunken Boatby Arthur Rimbaud, Patti Smith (Introduction), Louise Varese (Translator)
New Directions is pleased to announce the relaunch of the long-celebrated bi- lingual edition of Rimbaud’s A Season In Hell & The Drunken Boat a personal poem of damnation as well as a plea to be
A reissue of Rimbaud’s highly influential work, with a new preface by Patti Smith and the original 1945 New Directions cover design by Alvin lustig.
New Directions is pleased to announce the relaunch of the long-celebrated bi- lingual edition of Rimbaud’s A Season In Hell & The Drunken Boat a personal poem of damnation as well as a plea to be released from “the examination of his own depths.”
Rimbaud originally distributed A Season In Hell to friends as a self-published booklet, and soon afterward, at the age of nineteen, quit poetry altogether. New Directions’s edition was among the first to be published in the U.S., and it quickly became a classic. Rimbaud’s famous poem “The Drunken Boat” was subsequently added to the first paperbook printing. Allen Ginsberg proclaimed Arthur Rimbaud as “the first punk” a visionary mentor to the Beats for both his recklessness and his fiery poetry.
This new edition proudly dons the original Alvin Lustig–designed cover, and a introduction by another famous rebel and now National Book Award–winner Patti Smith.
- New Directions Publishing Corporation
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- Second Edition
- Sales rank:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.40(d)
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.
Patti Smith is a poet, performer, visual artist, and author of the National Book Award-winning memoir Just Kids. She has twelve albums, has had numerous gallery shows, and continues to give concerts of her music and poetry. Her books include Early Work, The Coral Sea, Witt, Babel, Auguries of Innocence,
Woolgathering, Land 250, Trois, and many others. She lives in New York.
Louise Varèse was an American biographer and translator of French. She is known for her translations of Stendhal, Proust, Georges Simenon, Julien Gracq, St.-John Perse and Arthur Rimbaud.
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Bryan Sevilla Since he was the age of fifteen, Rimbaud (1854-1891) had begun to demonstrate a bizarre and mysterious style of writing. His poems would reveal the anguish in his mind towards the world. His writing would portray a deep hopelessness during his times traveling across Europe, as if he never found the peace of a place to call his home. He once said that he is no different from his Gallic ancestors because he was also a slave to sacrilege and idolatry. However, while he lived among his vices, anger, lust, and sloth—he knew much about the word of God and this tormented him. Like the preface of A Season In Hell said, “He is at once a savior and a betrayer...Grappling with the civil war of his personality, he prays bitterly to be good but is not able...What he fears most is to be judged a fraud by God... In misery's company you will find him, tramping the luminous sewer of his own circulatory system with all his marvelous contradictions intact.” Like his confusing personality, his writing is also a maze, resulting in the countless interpretations of A Season In Hell. Rimbaud attempts to relate to his readers by painting the horrors that love and life creates, through this poem. His vocabulary is haunting and leaves one with a sense of eeriness after discovering the tone of the poem. A Season In Hell explores the seasons of pain and despair of Rimbaud's life: his past, his lost dreams, his relationship with a lover, his time spent in hell, and his escape from hell into a new life. However, it must be said, that once entering into the puzzles of this poem, one may never find the true meaning of Rimbaud's writing. It has a deep complexity that causes many different interpretations among its readers. One also has to keep in mind that Rimbaud was once a slave to drugs and alcohol, which may explain the puzzling ideas that he uses. However, whether Rimbaud smoked hashish or not, there is no doubt he was a genius. When considering that he quit writing at twenty years old and was only nineteen years old when he wrote A Season In Hell, one can only wonder what could have been if he would have never stopped. Near the end of the book, there is a separate poem by Rimbaud, titled The Drunken Boat. However, this one-hundred line poem is on a level of much more clarity than its opener. Like the poem before it, The Drunken Boat is orchestrated with parables of the wonders and horrors of having love for another. Rimbaud again utilizes strong and clever metaphors, such as the giant whale that rots before him, which may symbolize the gigantic pain or anxiety that love murders with. With these powerful parables, one may even become convinced that it is better to avoid love relationships. In other words, Rimbaud could have said that the beautiful pleasures of love are not worth the tormenting agony behind it. Although reading this particular translation of Rimbaud's A Season In Hell and The Drunken Boat may have brought much confusion and frustration to my reading, there is no doubt that it was a delightful experience, as it caused me to discover a new perspective on understanding the world.