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Illuminations by Arthur Rimbaud

Illuminations (edition 2011)

by Arthur Rimbaud, John Ashbery (Translator)

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397639,459 (3.9)10
Authors:Arthur Rimbaud
Other authors:John Ashbery (Translator)
Info:W. W. Norton & Company (2011), Edition: Bilingual, Hardcover, 176 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Poetry, u

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Illuminations by Arthur Rimbaud



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Showing 5 of 5
First off, it's insane, while you're reading this, to realize this was written by a twenty year old. More if you think this was just about when he gave up on writing.

I'm not sure how far the premise holds that nearly everything in Illuminations is about drug or drink induced experiences. A lot almost certainly came from it, but reading the notes I couldn't always find agreement with that idea. In my opinion, this would take away from Rimbaud's talent instead of add to the impossible grandness of it. But heck, I'm far from a Rimbaud scholar.

The translator here is, of course, and while the cadence and tone of the original French has no comparison, the translations are brilliant. You could read these as if they were originals and they would still be breathtaking.

To be fair, I had to race through this a bit and skip most of the notes and introductions. Still, this was overwhelming and while I have to come back to this, I'm not sure I'd be able to very soon. Rimbaud gives a lot but demands a lot. My reserves for beauty are somewhat filled up right now. ( )
  nilsgeylen | Jul 29, 2018 |
Rimbaud's classic suite of evocative prose poems is powerfully rendered by John Ashbery in this new translation, printed alongside the French original. Ashbery's diction is mellifluous and never forced, faithfully adhering to the spirit (and much of the letter) of Rimbaud's French. But most of the credit here is due to Rimbaud, of course, whose perceptive eye and expansive mind make Illuminations shine in whatever rendition. The whole collection is worth reading, but "Being Beauteous" and "Genie" were two of my personal highlights. ( )
  williecostello | Mar 11, 2014 |
My interview with Rimbaud translator John Ashbery is here:

  claudeboyd | May 9, 2011 |
After reading Une saison en enfer earlier this year, I decided to move on to Rimbaud's prose-poem Illuminations rather than step back to his earlier poetry. I think that I may have been better served by going back to his earliest poems before proceeding to these later works. I found a lot to like in his Illuminations, but the nature of this collection of surreal prose poems is such that I wish I had a better idea of the poet's identity before reading this series. I enjoyed the narrative arc of Une saison en enfer, and felt that I had to wander through these poems a bit confusedly without that common story or thread connecting them. I woke up early on Sunday morning and read them all while lying in bed; I've since been opening the book up to random pages and re-reading them a couple at a time. I enjoy the poems, and they are a bit easier to wrap my mind around when I attack them individually. They often paint pictures through a series of striking and evocative images, and it is easier for me to appreciate them a few at a time instead of all at once. I wanted to get to know the poetry of Rimbaud due to his reputation as a visionary, a modernist before modernism, and I am certainly struck by just how unique he was, to have written in this style and from this perspective in the ealy 1870s.

The poems are about cities, about princes and genies, about flight and escape, and about the society and the world that surround the poet. I felt the same way as I read these poems as I did when I used to walk through the modern galleries of the Art Insitute of Chicago: "wow, this is marvelous, this is beautiful, I wish I understood more of what I´m seeing in painting after fascinating painting." Perhaps, though, without narrative or story, the beauty of of the image itself is what's important, and so maybe the fact that I like these poems is an important element of "understanding" them. I'm going to keep this book on my nightstand for a few more weeks so that I can continue re-reading the poems of Illuminations, because I realize that as I sit here trying to figure out what to write about them, I have little to say. I enjoy reading them, and they make me want to know more.

I think that what I really need to do is find a good biography of Arthur Rimbaud. I've spent years reading about his influence on Latin American poets of the early 20th century, and after reading some of his work, I can imagine their excitement and appreciation of his perspective, which must have been quite fresh back in those days. I haven't spent a tremendous amount of time reading books from the 19th century, but I can certainly see how different Rimbaud is from many of his contemporaries. It's hard to believe that his career as a poet began and ended during his teenage years. When I was a freshman in college, I was a math major and I read a few biographies of famous math "geniuses." They were fascinating to me because they seemed to think on a different plane than normal human beings (and I was thoroughly convinced that I was not like them, and I changed my major). I remember one book called The Man who Knew Infinity, about an Indian mathematician named Ramanujan. He produced notebooks of highly visionary mathematical statements, and seemed to be able to see mathematics differently than his contemporaries. As he struggled to find a job in India, he was eventually encouraged to send his work to British mathematicians. He was rejected by some, but eventually G.H. Hardy recognized his unique genius and brought him to England to continue his work and collaborate with mathematicians at Cambridge. The story of Rimbaud's "discovery" by Paul Verlaine, who sent him a ticket to come to Paris, parallels Hardy's summons of Ramanujan to come and work at Cambridge. And, like Ramanujan, Rimbaud looked at his subject in a different way than his peers, producing poetry that now seems prophetic in the way that it anticipated the artistic output of future generations. In my conception of what it might mean to be a "poetic genius," Rimbaud seems like an ideal example: his teenage poetry exhibits a similar genius to Ramanujan's mathematical notebooks. I'd like to learn more about his life and the context in which he wrote his poems, because I realize that at this point I'm as intrigued by Rimbaud himself as I am by his poetic work. ( )
  msjohns615 | Oct 1, 2010 |
This man is my favorite author. He was a visionary. In this book the introduction finds him praising women and saying one day we would be allowed to work and write, and look out! Because we would change the world. He looked forward to it. The movie of his love affair with Poet Paul Verlain (sp?) is my favorite love story. It reeks of violence and juvenile angst. ( )
  valentipoetry | Dec 6, 2006 |
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» Add other authors (23 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Arthur Rimbaudprimary authorall editionscalculated
Ashbery, JohnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Decroix, OlivierEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Varèse, LouiseIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Varèse, LouiseTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Verlet, AgnèsContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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As soon as the idea of the Deluge had subsided, a hare stopped in the clover and swaying flowerbells, and said a prayer to the rainbow, through the spider's web.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0811201848, Paperback)

This text is in English and French. This edition of Rimbaud's masterpiece marks the first translation of "Illuminations" that has been praised for its exquisite interpretation, particularly by American translators.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:04 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"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" --Dust jacket flap.… (more)

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W.W. Norton

2 editions of this book were published by W.W. Norton.

Editions: 0393076350, 0393081842

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