A Season in Hell and Illuminations

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J.M. Dent, Sep 1, 1999 - Poetry - 164 pages
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Although he abandoned poetry before he was twenty-one years old, and wrote for only five or six years in all, Arthur Rimbaud has had an extraordinary influence on modern poetry. His work helped inspire poetic Symbolism, Dadaism, and Surrealism. Rimbaud dreamed of re-creating life through his words. Not content merely to describe the world, he longed to reorder it through his revolutionary poetry. He rebelled against all forms of hypocrisy, as well as against conventional concepts of love, morality, religion, and art. He even dreamed of liberating women from "endless servitude." Written a century ago, A Season in Hell and The Illuminations read like the works of an avant-garde poet of today. In her Introduction dealing with Rimbaud's life and work, Enid Rhodes Peschel discusses his concept of the voyant, the poet-visionary he dreamed of becoming through a "reasoned deranging of all his senses." A Season in Hell, which combines autobiography with self-appraisal, vision and hallucination, reflects Rimbaud's tortures in trying to be a voyant. The forty-two poems of The Illuminations, kaleidoscopic evocations of a universe in continual evolution, are further evidence of his attempts to reach this transcendent state. Enid Rhodes Peschel has succeeded in not only translating these works but in recreating them. Eye, ear, mind, and heart have all been engaged in her effort to capture the tone and rhythm of Rimbaud's language as well as the quality of his thought.

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A season in hell and Illuminations: poems

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Each new generation looks forward to fresh translations of classic works, and the publisher has obliged with these bilingual versions of 19th-century France's most notorious poets. The poems found in ... Read full review

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About the author (1999)

Arthur Rimbaud, 1854-1891 Arthur Rimbaud was born October 20, 1854. He was the son of an army captain who deserted his family when Arthur was six years old. He attended a provincial school in Charleville, a town in northeastern France, and was a brilliant student until the Franco-Prussian war. It was then Rimbaud turned rebel and fled his home. As a boy, Rimbaud wrote some of the most remarkable poetry of the 19th century. His rhythmic experiments in his prose poems "Illuminations" (1886; eng.trans.,1932) identified him as one of the creators of free verse. Synesthesia, (the description of one sense experience in terms of another), was popularized by his "Sonnet of the Vowels" (1871;Eng. Trans., 1966) where each vowel is assigned a color. After Rimbaud fled his home in July 1870, a year of drifting followed. During this time, he had sent some poems to Paul Verlaine. In 1871, he was invited to Paris where Verlaine rejected him as a drunk. In spite of that, he and Verlaine became lovers and the relationship continued sporadically over two years and formed the core of disillusionment in "A Season in Hell." After the affair ended, Rimbaud abandoned his writing. At the time he was not yet 20 years old. Rimbaud transformed himself becoming a trader and gunrunner in Africa. On November 10, 1891, he died in Marseille following the amputation of his cancerous right leg.

Marcel Proust (18711922) was the greatest French novelist of the twentieth century.
Mark Treharne taught French at the University of Warwick and has since worked as a translator.
Christopher Prendergast is professor of French at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of Kings College.

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