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A Season in Hell and The Drunken Boat

Arthur Rimbaud Author

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The classic influential poems by Rimbaud, in a bilingual en face edition featuring acclaimed translations by Louise Varése.

Although he stopped writing at the age of nineteen, Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891) possessed the most revolutionary talent of the past hundred years, and his poetry and prose have increasingly influenced the major writers of our century. To his masterpiece A Season in Hell is here added Rimbaud's longest and possibly greatest single poem The Drunken Boat, with the original French en face.

The reputation of A Season in Hell, which is a poetic record of a man's examination of his own depths, has steadily increased over the years. Upon the first publication of Mrs. Varese's translation by New Directions, the Saturday Review wrote: "One may at last suggest that the translation of A Season in Hell has reached a conclusive point..." Concerning the twenty-five-stanza The Drunken Boat, Dr. Enid Starkie of Oxford University has written: "(It is) an anthology of separate lines of astonishing evocative magic which linger in the mind like isolated jewels." Rimbaud's life was so extraordinary that it has taken on the quality of a myth. A biographical chronology is included in this book.

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About 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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