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A Season in Hell

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Written by Rimbaud at age 18 in the wake of a tempestuous affair with fellow poet, Paul Verlaine, A Season in Hell has been a touchstone for anguished poets, artists and lovers for over a century. This volume presents the text in French and English with photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe.


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Written by Rimbaud at age 18 in the wake of a tempestuous affair with fellow poet, Paul Verlaine, A Season in Hell has been a touchstone for anguished poets, artists and lovers for over a century. This volume presents the text in French and English with photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe.

30 review for A Season in Hell

  1. 5 out of 5

    Florencia

    I'm an organized person. Psychotically organized. Except when it comes to books. I try to plan my readings, I try to finish one book in order to begin a new one, but it's all in vain. I read what I want to read, whenever I have the need of reading it. So, with four books on my currently-reading shelf, today I felt like reading something different. First, some weird stuff by Tim Burton, then, A Season in Hell caught my attention and here we are. Anyway, this is one of those books I should read whi I'm an organized person. Psychotically organized. Except when it comes to books. I try to plan my readings, I try to finish one book in order to begin a new one, but it's all in vain. I read what I want to read, whenever I have the need of reading it. So, with four books on my currently-reading shelf, today I felt like reading something different. First, some weird stuff by Tim Burton, then, A Season in Hell caught my attention and here we are. Anyway, this is one of those books I should read while being drunk. Unfortunately, I don't drink. So, it was kind of difficult to understand what the hell I was reading. This prose work, written by Rimbaud at age 18, is divided into nine parts. And that's the most accurate observation I can give. The rest is pure symbolism hard to get if you haven't read something about his life and his troubled affair with Verlaine (quite a profound inspiration here). These are words written by a young and tormented soul, desperate to put everything out there, to purge himself. Words written with exquisite sensibility, describing beautiful, dark, intense images. I saw that, in all its glory, in the first part, Introduction. The second part, Bad Blood, it's a collection of the consequences of his ancestors, his blood, and other weird reflections that made me think I probably wouldn't like what he was smoking at that time. The third part was... well, I don't want to say that I enjoyed reading it, because it's about the narrator's death and his arrival to hell (nothing really nice to read right before going to bed, honestly), but it's beautifully written. Again, this young man makes you feel what was going through his mind and soul with unsettling details. The forth part is Ravings I, Foolish Virgin, The Infernal Spouse. I'm guessing you can imagine to whom he's referring in this one. I shouldn't keep spoiling this, right?. So, during all this strange journey from existence on earth to condemnation in hell, it remains only one question to be asked: can he be saved? Even though he's already in hell, can he find any sort of mitigation, salvation even? Yeah... I'm not answering that. I had a good, weird, dark, sad, freaky, confusing, unsettling, challenging, disturbing read. Your turn. May 21, 14 * Also in my blog.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Norah Una Sumner

    oh to be a slightly racist, slightly misogynist, extremely narcissistic and angsty 19 year old Rimbaud oh to be a slightly racist, slightly misogynist, extremely narcissistic and angsty 19 year old Rimbaud

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ken

    Rate Rimbaud? Not taking the bait. Fascinating turns (and churns) of mind, at times brilliant and at times childish. Hell of a booklet, I'll say that much. Rate Rimbaud? Not taking the bait. Fascinating turns (and churns) of mind, at times brilliant and at times childish. Hell of a booklet, I'll say that much.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    Some literature does to a tormented soul what antibiotics does to the body. It can prescribed as a cure when someone needs it. Rimbaud here is a broken man after a lover has left him. The reason of his descent is not clearly made but the whole poem demonstrates his tormented, confused presense and need for love. Reading this I was amazed how he used such strange surrealist images to create a desperate, morbid atmosphere in which he is looking for satisfaction to come eventually. Rimbaud, like ano Some literature does to a tormented soul what antibiotics does to the body. It can prescribed as a cure when someone needs it. Rimbaud here is a broken man after a lover has left him. The reason of his descent is not clearly made but the whole poem demonstrates his tormented, confused presense and need for love. Reading this I was amazed how he used such strange surrealist images to create a desperate, morbid atmosphere in which he is looking for satisfaction to come eventually. Rimbaud, like another favourite of mine Nabakov, mixes their senses to illustrate excesses of stimulation, which I'll always be a sucker for.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Chris_P

    I don't know how to rate this. In fact, I think it's beyond any rating, so my four stars don't really say anything. Moreover, I have a feeling that I wasn't ready for it yet, so I'll be giving it more chances in the future. Like an index to my emotional growth. The fact, however, that he wrote it at the age of 19 is beyond any comment. All that is finished. Today, I have learned to wave my hand at beauty. I don't know how to rate this. In fact, I think it's beyond any rating, so my four stars don't really say anything. Moreover, I have a feeling that I wasn't ready for it yet, so I'll be giving it more chances in the future. Like an index to my emotional growth. The fact, however, that he wrote it at the age of 19 is beyond any comment. All that is finished. Today, I have learned to wave my hand at beauty.

  6. 5 out of 5

    The Literary Chick

    It would be impossible to get a better edition than Bulfinch Press's. The pairing of Rimbaud's fiery poetry with Mapplethorpe's photographs is the perfect marriage en enfer for the demon bridegroom. It would be impossible to get a better edition than Bulfinch Press's. The pairing of Rimbaud's fiery poetry with Mapplethorpe's photographs is the perfect marriage en enfer for the demon bridegroom.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Title: Une saison en enfer Author: Arthur Rimbaud Release Date: March 2, 2018 [EBook #56668] Language: French Produced by Laura N.R. & Marc D'Hooghe at Free Literature (Images generously made available by Gallica, Bibliothèque nationale de France.) Free download available at Project Gutenberg. I made the proofing of this book for Free Literature and it will be published by Project Gutenberg. L'Eternité Elle est retrouvée. Quoi ? - L'Eternité. C'est la mer allée Avec le soleil. Ame sentinelle, Murmurons l'ave Title: Une saison en enfer Author: Arthur Rimbaud Release Date: March 2, 2018 [EBook #56668] Language: French Produced by Laura N.R. & Marc D'Hooghe at Free Literature (Images generously made available by Gallica, Bibliothèque nationale de France.) Free download available at Project Gutenberg. I made the proofing of this book for Free Literature and it will be published by Project Gutenberg. L'Eternité Elle est retrouvée. Quoi ? - L'Eternité. C'est la mer allée Avec le soleil. Ame sentinelle, Murmurons l'aveu De la nuit si nulle Et du jour en feu. Des humains suffrages, Des communs élans Là tu te dégages Et voles selon. Puisque de vous seules, Braises de satin, Le Devoir s'exhale Sans qu'on dise : enfin. Là pas d'espérance, Nul orietur. Science avec patience, Le supplice est sûr. Elle est retrouvée. Quoi ? - L'Eternité. C'est la mer allée Avec le soleil.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Khashayar Mohammadi

    I find Rimbaud's writing rather sophomoric and bland. I wish I had read him at a much younger age. I find Rimbaud's writing rather sophomoric and bland. I wish I had read him at a much younger age.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    I know of no other translator who has captured Rimbaud's youthful voice: Donald Revell is the first. While there are several beautiful translations of A Season in Hell--Paul Schmidt and Wyatt Mason have both produced excellent versions--the voice is always that of a middle aged man, not of a boy in his late teens. With Revell's transation, we have that voice, and it is amazing to feel the energy and the freshness of this French monolith when an innocence is maintained. Perhaps some of the success I know of no other translator who has captured Rimbaud's youthful voice: Donald Revell is the first. While there are several beautiful translations of A Season in Hell--Paul Schmidt and Wyatt Mason have both produced excellent versions--the voice is always that of a middle aged man, not of a boy in his late teens. With Revell's transation, we have that voice, and it is amazing to feel the energy and the freshness of this French monolith when an innocence is maintained. Perhaps some of the success comes from Revell's reading of Rimbaud, seen in the illuminating Translator's Afterword, as a poet who brings paradise with him when walking through hell.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    One of the most memorable pieces of writing that I have ever read. Rimbaud's mind must have been a strange and wonderful place in which to exist. One of the most memorable pieces of writing that I have ever read. Rimbaud's mind must have been a strange and wonderful place in which to exist.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Bradway

    Sometimes I'll have a week when I just can't find a lighted path through life; stuck choosing between activities that just don't make it worse and activities that almost definitely will. Choose to keep running, keep your health up. Choose to eat well and try to get your 7 hours. Choose to avoid sarcasm when possible. Choose not to nap in the afternoon. Choose not to wallow in beer or the like. Choose not to read A Season in Hell & Other Poems (or anything else that makes you think too much about where Sometimes I'll have a week when I just can't find a lighted path through life; stuck choosing between activities that just don't make it worse and activities that almost definitely will. Choose to keep running, keep your health up. Choose to eat well and try to get your 7 hours. Choose to avoid sarcasm when possible. Choose not to nap in the afternoon. Choose not to wallow in beer or the like. Choose not to read A Season in Hell & Other Poems (or anything else that makes you think too much about where you've been, where you're going, and the nature of reality.) That last one's a biggie. Eventually, all the lights come back on of their own accord and the time of dark stumbles will end.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Clara

    I must say, this book is unsetting. It's all simbolism; very strange and poetic, dark and inlightening. Profound and profain. Dark and bright. At first you can be lost, but then, you'll found the meaning. It's caos, so if you like caos, you'll enjoy this book. I must say, this book is unsetting. It's all simbolism; very strange and poetic, dark and inlightening. Profound and profain. Dark and bright. At first you can be lost, but then, you'll found the meaning. It's caos, so if you like caos, you'll enjoy this book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Michael A.

    Wyatt Mason translation.

  14. 4 out of 5

    AC

    The rating is for the volume at hand, obviously, not for Rimbaud (most of which, apart from some well-known passages, I don't in the least understand: I read Season in Hell, Illuminations, Drunken Boat). Appelbaum's translations are pretty awful, and at times out and out wrong. But as a dual-language book, switching back and forth, bad translations are sometimes better than good ones -- if they're literal. So it's a tough call. The rating is for the volume at hand, obviously, not for Rimbaud (most of which, apart from some well-known passages, I don't in the least understand: I read Season in Hell, Illuminations, Drunken Boat). Appelbaum's translations are pretty awful, and at times out and out wrong. But as a dual-language book, switching back and forth, bad translations are sometimes better than good ones -- if they're literal. So it's a tough call.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sharmilla

    I came upon Rimbaud during the tempest of my life. I'm not saying that finding his work did more for me than therapy ever did, but I will concede that this hypnotising, dark, lyrical collection of written madness made me sigh both in wonder at its tormented beauty and also with relief at the thought that I was not alone in battling demons of the mind. I came upon Rimbaud during the tempest of my life. I'm not saying that finding his work did more for me than therapy ever did, but I will concede that this hypnotising, dark, lyrical collection of written madness made me sigh both in wonder at its tormented beauty and also with relief at the thought that I was not alone in battling demons of the mind.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Andre Piucci

    “I think I am in hell, therefore I am. It’s the fault of the catechism.”

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Wow, like, none of this worked for me. None of it. Not the relentless nihilism and negativity, not the sloppy metre, not the themes or subjects. When I was twelve years old I stood up in front of a class and described Wordsworth's 'The Daffodils' - at the time everyone's favourite poem, because it was also the only poem they at that stage had ever read (rural Ireland, the nineties, the end) - as 'sentimental nonsense'. The natural conclusion to that twelve-year-old's taste should be Rimbaud and Wow, like, none of this worked for me. None of it. Not the relentless nihilism and negativity, not the sloppy metre, not the themes or subjects. When I was twelve years old I stood up in front of a class and described Wordsworth's 'The Daffodils' - at the time everyone's favourite poem, because it was also the only poem they at that stage had ever read (rural Ireland, the nineties, the end) - as 'sentimental nonsense'. The natural conclusion to that twelve-year-old's taste should be Rimbaud and Baudelaire and Bukowski, but it's emphatically, crashingly, not. I presume Saison d'Enfer was shocking when it was first published, but I spent most of it so bored I had to prop my eyelids open. There's little bits of false gold in amongst this muck, but they don't tip the balance of how banal and dull I found it even slightly. Time Without End: "Soul, you sentinel, Murmur and confess, Day is fiery hell, Night is nothingness." I mean, that's an accurate description of depression. Ravings I - Foolish Virgin: "Yet all is permitted to me, who am burdened with the contempt of the most contemptible hearts." Pure, unadulterated misery porn. Ravings II - Alchemy of the Word: "I made rules for the shape and movement of each consonant, and, with the aid of instinctive rhythms, I flattered myself that I had invented a poetic terminology that would one day be accessible to all the sense. Translation rights reserved." I'll admit, I sniggered. Morning: "Looking up from the same desert, to the same night, always my weary eyes awaken to the silver star - always, whilst nothing troubles the Kings of Life, the three Magi: heart, soul and mind. When shall we go beyond the mountains, to salute the birth of the new work, the new wisdom, the putting to flight of tyrants and demons, the end of superstition; to adore - the first to do so - Christmas upon earth?" That's pretty much the conclusion and it's a fine one, but whoa was it not worth trudging through the preceding muck.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Chris Drew

    Rimbaud's work is vibrant, and exhaustive in the exploration and representation of its themes. His language is beautifully self-aware and has remained remarkably modern, engaging, and readable. His core struggle, the pivot between thesis and antithesis of living and the realities of life, is and will remain poignant. This edition is (to my limited knowledge) a nice translation and beautifully printed alongside the french original. It is a nice book. The Mapplethorpe photos were neat, but there w Rimbaud's work is vibrant, and exhaustive in the exploration and representation of its themes. His language is beautifully self-aware and has remained remarkably modern, engaging, and readable. His core struggle, the pivot between thesis and antithesis of living and the realities of life, is and will remain poignant. This edition is (to my limited knowledge) a nice translation and beautifully printed alongside the french original. It is a nice book. The Mapplethorpe photos were neat, but there were really just a couple and they didn't come off as ambitious or meaningful as the cover might make you think.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lucas Clarke

    note - I did not read from this edition but instead from Rimbaud Complete I am not good with poetry. I am trying to learn how to be better with poetry but I have a mind for the material rather than the abstract. This was an interesting challenge that I most likely failed.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    On road

  21. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    I shall waste no words describing or criticizing the poem itself; its place as one of the greatest poems of all time is secure, and its meaning, purpose, and poetic techniques are well understood and appreciated. However, there is a problem: most previous translations from the original French have "elevated" the text to that which might be written by a middle-aged or older scholar (while, I do admit, preserving its meaning). All fans know that Rimbaud wrote this, his last poem, when he was 19 ye I shall waste no words describing or criticizing the poem itself; its place as one of the greatest poems of all time is secure, and its meaning, purpose, and poetic techniques are well understood and appreciated. However, there is a problem: most previous translations from the original French have "elevated" the text to that which might be written by a middle-aged or older scholar (while, I do admit, preserving its meaning). All fans know that Rimbaud wrote this, his last poem, when he was 19 years old (1873). Donald Revell restores the original linguistic exuberance, flamboyance, and fun to the poem. Although extremely serious in content, A Season in Hell is not at all a morbid work! It needs youthful language to work its magic. Revell's award-winning translation does just that.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Daren

    Well, another Penguin 60s book way outside of my circle of interest, and far beyond my simple understanding. Reviews love this book, but for me, no thanks. I struggle through it all (ha ha, it is a 59 page book, the left page in French, the right translated to English, which means it is only a30 page book), though the complexity of the language, the prose (ok so I detest poetry, so this book was always on a hiding to nothing) and the symbolism are completely wasted on me... but I have the good gr Well, another Penguin 60s book way outside of my circle of interest, and far beyond my simple understanding. Reviews love this book, but for me, no thanks. I struggle through it all (ha ha, it is a 59 page book, the left page in French, the right translated to English, which means it is only a30 page book), though the complexity of the language, the prose (ok so I detest poetry, so this book was always on a hiding to nothing) and the symbolism are completely wasted on me... but I have the good grace not to put a star rating.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Freda Anderson

    Maybe I'm just uncultured but honestly poetry is my favorite genre of all time and this book made me want to punch Rimbaud in the face. I know it's supposed to be amazing but it reminded me of the most spoiled person of all time complaining about nothing. Also he says some maybe racist things but it's hard to tell cause it's translated so I'll let that go I guess... Some great lines though. "he spends hours making me ashamed of everything in the world that may have touched me, and is in- dignant if Maybe I'm just uncultured but honestly poetry is my favorite genre of all time and this book made me want to punch Rimbaud in the face. I know it's supposed to be amazing but it reminded me of the most spoiled person of all time complaining about nothing. Also he says some maybe racist things but it's hard to tell cause it's translated so I'll let that go I guess... Some great lines though. "he spends hours making me ashamed of everything in the world that may have touched me, and is in- dignant if I weep." Very accurate depiction of emotional abuse. Good job.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Michael Morris

    I am at an age where I ought to appreciate this book more. I should be able to revel in the ravings and howling of the semi-mad (or is he over-sane?) speaker. Yet though there are a few marvelous lines, and a couple of ideas worthy of musing upon, I find the overall book has much less art or philosophy or wit than its reputation insists. There are, on the other hand, a lot of bloody exclamation marks!

  25. 5 out of 5

    May M

    I never have the right words to express how much I love and relate to this man, how each and every word uttered by him compels me to become part of his notions, raw sensations for the mentally bewildered, the saddest soul and he now belongs to me, in all ways possible! I read him over, and over again, perhaps for the rest of my life

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Cole

    In fairness, I don't know if I would enjoy this today. But I was impressed when I first read it, many years ago. I thought the longer form worked more to Rimbaud's advantage. I'd read shorter poems of his. They were good too, but this one reads like a story. I have to ask, though, as I find myself asking more and more: If people knew nothing about Rimbaud, would they still like his writing? In fairness, I don't know if I would enjoy this today. But I was impressed when I first read it, many years ago. I thought the longer form worked more to Rimbaud's advantage. I'd read shorter poems of his. They were good too, but this one reads like a story. I have to ask, though, as I find myself asking more and more: If people knew nothing about Rimbaud, would they still like his writing?

  27. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    I had a slightly hard time getting into this book, but once I got through it, I enjoyed it thoroughly. Definitely not your standard book of poems. It's the source of the title for the Tom Robbins novel "Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates". I had a slightly hard time getting into this book, but once I got through it, I enjoyed it thoroughly. Definitely not your standard book of poems. It's the source of the title for the Tom Robbins novel "Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates".

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    Just an astonishing collection considering Rimbaud's youth and relative inexperience in the world. That some one in his late teen years, basically age 16 to 19, could convey such depth of emotion and such a fiery personality just floors me. Talk about a rock star before rock stars existed!!! Just an astonishing collection considering Rimbaud's youth and relative inexperience in the world. That some one in his late teen years, basically age 16 to 19, could convey such depth of emotion and such a fiery personality just floors me. Talk about a rock star before rock stars existed!!!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    Ever felt like your whole being was bent on breaking something? Well, maybe reading this long-ish prose poem will save you half the trouble. Rimbaud was a young boy when he wrote this, and he was pissed.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nicole McCann

    this little paperback was split - in french and english. i usually only tend to like poetry a lot when i am studying it, researching, discussing, etc. left on my own to just read it, i don't get that much out of it. at the moment i can't be bother to do any research on it. this little paperback was split - in french and english. i usually only tend to like poetry a lot when i am studying it, researching, discussing, etc. left on my own to just read it, i don't get that much out of it. at the moment i can't be bother to do any research on it.

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