Une Saison en Enfer: A Season in Hell; Les Illuminations: The Illuminations

Une Saison en Enfer: A Season in Hell; Les Illuminations: The Illuminations

Une Saison en Enfer: A Season in Hell; Les Illuminations: The Illuminations

Une Saison en Enfer: A Season in Hell; Les Illuminations: The Illuminations

Synopsis

Written by Rimbaud at the age of 18 in the wake of his tempestuous affair with fellow poet Paul Verlaine, "A Season in Hell" has been a touchstone for anguished poets, artists, and lovers for more than a century.

Excerpt

Enid Rhodes Peschel is a fine young poet. Her verse, which has appeared in many magazines, is refreshingly free from all mannerism and from the childish affectation of violence and brutality which will soon date many poets of the nineteen-sixties. It is unashamedly romantic, in the sense that it does not repudiate sensuous delight, richness of imagery, harmony and sentiment. Her good fortune is that, while fully at home in the literature of the English language, she has made an especial study of the poetry of France. She wrote a Ph.D. thesis at Harvard under the direction of one of the best Rimbaud scholars of our time, Wilbur M. Frohock. She teaches at Yale, where her courses on Baudelaire and on Rimbaud have attracted many of the young rebels; for, appearances notwithstanding, never perhaps has the youth of America been more athirst for poetry in all its forms (in music and painting and fiction, and in its fight for a clean environment and for the poetry of peace and justice) than it is today. Rimbaud and Nietzsche are two of the geniuses to whom, in its half-conscious or only half-confessed search for heroes, the young people of several continents have turned, in disgust with their own age, in the seventh decade of our century.

A critic who is also a poet was ideally fit to undertake the difficult task of rendering into English the poetry of Rimbaud. Other poets and scholars had already risen to the challenge: Delmore Schwartz, Louise Varèse and Wallace Fowlie, among them. the mysterious beauty of Rimbaud's texts, their formidable energy, the directness with which they assault the reader and compel him to submit to the poet's sway should indeed tempt new translators in every generation. Like all very great works, A Season in Hell and the Illuminations are to be reinterpreted and relived every ten years.

The translation here offered is faithful, precise, literal, yet never prosaic or ponderous. It does not, and it should not, paraphrase . . .

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