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Enduring icon of creativity, authenticity, and rebellion, and the subject of numerous new biographies, Arthur Rimbaud is one of the most repeatedly scrutinized literary figures of the last half-century. Yet almost thirty years have elapsed without a major new translation of his writings. Remedying this state of affairs is Rimbaud Complete, the first and only truly complete Enduring icon of creativity, authenticity, and rebellion, and the subject of numerous new biographies, Arthur Rimbaud is one of the most repeatedly scrutinized literary figures of the last half-century. Yet almost thirty years have elapsed without a major new translation of his writings. Remedying this state of affairs is Rimbaud Complete, the first and only truly complete edition of Rimbaud’s work in English, translated, edited, and introduced by Wyatt Mason. Mason draws on a century of Rimbaud scholarship to choreograph a superbly clear-eyed presentation of the poet’s works. He arranges Rimbaud’s writing chronologically, based on the latest manuscript evidence, so readers can experience the famously teenaged poet’s rapid evolution, from the lyricism of “Sensation” to the groundbreaking early modernism of A Season in Hell. In fifty pages of previously untranslated material, including award-winning early verses, all the fragmentary poems, a fascinating early draft of A Season in Hell, a school notebook, and multiple manuscript versions of the important poem “O saisons, ô chateaux,” Rimbaud Complete displays facets of the poet unknown to American readers. And in his Introduction, Mason revisits the Rimbaud myth, addresses the state of disarray in which the poet left his work, and illuminates the intricacies of the translator’s art. Mason has harnessed the precision and power of the poet’s rapidly changing voice: from the delicate music of a poem such as “Crows” to the mature dissonance of the Illuminations, Rimbaud Complete unveils this essential poet for a new generation of readers.


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Enduring icon of creativity, authenticity, and rebellion, and the subject of numerous new biographies, Arthur Rimbaud is one of the most repeatedly scrutinized literary figures of the last half-century. Yet almost thirty years have elapsed without a major new translation of his writings. Remedying this state of affairs is Rimbaud Complete, the first and only truly complete Enduring icon of creativity, authenticity, and rebellion, and the subject of numerous new biographies, Arthur Rimbaud is one of the most repeatedly scrutinized literary figures of the last half-century. Yet almost thirty years have elapsed without a major new translation of his writings. Remedying this state of affairs is Rimbaud Complete, the first and only truly complete edition of Rimbaud’s work in English, translated, edited, and introduced by Wyatt Mason. Mason draws on a century of Rimbaud scholarship to choreograph a superbly clear-eyed presentation of the poet’s works. He arranges Rimbaud’s writing chronologically, based on the latest manuscript evidence, so readers can experience the famously teenaged poet’s rapid evolution, from the lyricism of “Sensation” to the groundbreaking early modernism of A Season in Hell. In fifty pages of previously untranslated material, including award-winning early verses, all the fragmentary poems, a fascinating early draft of A Season in Hell, a school notebook, and multiple manuscript versions of the important poem “O saisons, ô chateaux,” Rimbaud Complete displays facets of the poet unknown to American readers. And in his Introduction, Mason revisits the Rimbaud myth, addresses the state of disarray in which the poet left his work, and illuminates the intricacies of the translator’s art. Mason has harnessed the precision and power of the poet’s rapidly changing voice: from the delicate music of a poem such as “Crows” to the mature dissonance of the Illuminations, Rimbaud Complete unveils this essential poet for a new generation of readers.

30 review for Rimbaud Complete (Modern Library Classics)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sebastienne Rimbaud

    English-language poetry, excepting maybe the contributions of the Beats, has remained largely untouched by the Rimbaud phantasmagoria - interestingly enough, his enfant terrible personality made him more influential among protopunk musicians than poets. However, anyone who's ventured even slightly into the realm of European verse has fallen beneath the vast shadow of Rimbaud. Considered the greatest of French poets by many, his verses were made even more remarkable by the dangerous philosophy of English-language poetry, excepting maybe the contributions of the Beats, has remained largely untouched by the Rimbaud phantasmagoria - interestingly enough, his enfant terrible personality made him more influential among protopunk musicians than poets. However, anyone who's ventured even slightly into the realm of European verse has fallen beneath the vast shadow of Rimbaud. Considered the greatest of French poets by many, his verses were made even more remarkable by the dangerous philosophy of the poète voyant that nearly destroyed his sanity and his life, and the fact that he stopped writing entirely before he was twenty. He is, in many people's eyes, a pseudo-religious figure, the patron saint or patron demon of French letters, the beginning and end of modern poetry. Well, I'm certainly not going to argue with that. On to the book. This is, unfortunately, the definitive English translation of Rimbaud, "corrected" a handful of decades after the original printing, removing such stupid mistakes as "que chante le coq gaulois" rendered in English as "the Gallic cock grows." - the intended meaning, of course, being crows. Considering that the publishers found it necessary to drag in a whole other man to fix the translator's mistakes, it doesn't really give you confidence as to the quality of the translation, eh? Though I'm willing to give Fowlie the benefit of the doubt and assume that most of the changes were due to new versions of Rimbaud manuscripts cropping up and recently uncovered knowledge changing the way we interpret him. The translation was originally intended, I believe, for people who read a little French but need some extra help. It doesn't stand up as well on its own, and if you think you can manage it in the original French, by all means, give it a try, but Rimbaud is, even in the crudest of translations (and Fowlie's work is, admittedly, far from the worst one could do), a transcendent, visionary genius. His poems are as dangerous and soul-warping as they were 115 years ago. I would suggest that people with mental problems (such as myself - after reading this I promptly changed my surname to Rimbaud and ran around the country ruining my life in the name of achieving poetic transcendence - not that I regretted it much, but still, in and out of rehab and mental institutions is no way to go through life, son) and/or poets with no remaining survival instincts stay away from Rimbaud. Or, no, rather, do, and immediately - the world needs new Rimbauds, now more so than ever. As for everyone else, Rimbaud is best read with knowledge of the man - the boy, rather - behind the words. I would suggest first purchasing a biography or two as a companion piece and perhaps watching the film Total Eclipse, with David Thewlis as Rimbaud's lover Paul Verlaine and Leonardo diCaprio doing a surprisingly good job portraying the avant-garde poet himself.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Selena

    rimbaud is comfort reading for the soul. i fell into reading him on accident, i was talking about poetry with a friend and he happened to mention that this was his favourite poet. and he told me all about rimbaud’s past, the tryst he had with paul verlaine, the religious upbringing he had and the curious fact that rimbaud stopped writing at 21. that he dropped everything to become a merchant and to run away from it all. my interest was piqued; there isn’t any way that it couldn’t be. what strikes rimbaud is comfort reading for the soul. i fell into reading him on accident, i was talking about poetry with a friend and he happened to mention that this was his favourite poet. and he told me all about rimbaud’s past, the tryst he had with paul verlaine, the religious upbringing he had and the curious fact that rimbaud stopped writing at 21. that he dropped everything to become a merchant and to run away from it all. my interest was piqued; there isn’t any way that it couldn’t be. what strikes me about rimbaud in the translated work that wyatt mason has compiled is the ability to watch him grow in the few years that he is a poet and writer. he lists the poetry and prose as best as he can by the year that it was written. mason even captures versions of poems, again sorting by year, so that you can see the corrections that age helped him to make to his beautiful poems. i’ve read previous translations of rimbaud, and i’ve loved those as well, but this one felt a bit more… modern and relatable. instead of a literal translation, word by word, he tried to convey nuances of the language into english, which to me hasn’t been done as well by previous translators. i imagine reading it in the original french would be amazing, but alas, i can only speak so many languages. below is probably my favourite prose piece that he’s written (which isn’t an easy thing to choose). * * * * Long ago, if my memory serves, life was a feast where every heart was open, where every wine flowed. One night, I sat Beauty on my knee. –And I found her bitter. –And I hurt her. I took arms against justice. I fled, entrusting my treasure to you, o witches, o misery, o hate. I snuffed any hint of human hope from my consciousness. I made the muffled leap of a wild beast onto any hint of joy, to strangle it. Dying, I called my executioners over so I could bite the butts of their rifles. I called plagues to suffocate me with sand, blood. Misfortune was my god. I lay in the mud. I withered in criminal air. And I even tricked madness more than once. And spring left me with an idiot’s unbearable laughter. Just now, having nearly reached death’s door, I thought about seeking the key to the old feast, through which, perhaps, I might regain my appetite. Charity is the key. –Such an inspiration proves I was dreaming! “A hyena you’ll remain, etc….” cries the demon that crowns me with your merry poppies. “Make for death with every appetite intact, with your egotism, and every capital sin.” Ah. It seems I have too many already: –But, dear Satan, I beg you not to look at me that way, and while you await a few belated cowardices—you who so delight in a writer’s inability to describe or inform—watch me tear a few terrible leaves from my book of the damned. it’s hard for me to explain why i love a poet, or a specific poem. i feel transported, or full of life or anger, or just an emotion that previously hadn’t consumed me, for the duration of my reading and for some time beyond. i’m stuck in that space that the author has written and it feels for a time like i want nothing more than to drown in that emotion. this is why i read rimbaud, all the time.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Edita

    For I is someone else. If the brass awakes as horn, it can't be to blame. This much is clear: I'm around for the hatching of my thought: I watch it, I listen to it: I release a stroke from the bow: the symphony makes its rumblings in the depths, or leaps fully-formed onto the stage. * The Poet makes himself into a seer by a long, involved and logical derangement of all the senses. Every kind of love, of suffering, of madness; he searches himself; he exhausts every possible poison so that only esse For I is someone else. If the brass awakes as horn, it can't be to blame. This much is clear: I'm around for the hatching of my thought: I watch it, I listen to it: I release a stroke from the bow: the symphony makes its rumblings in the depths, or leaps fully-formed onto the stage. * The Poet makes himself into a seer by a long, involved and logical derangement of all the senses. Every kind of love, of suffering, of madness; he searches himself; he exhausts every possible poison so that only essence remains. He undergoes unspeakable tortures that require complete faith and superhuman strength, rendering him the ultimate Invalid among men, the master criminal, the first among the damned-and the supreme Savant! For he arrives at the unknown!For, unlike everyone else, he has developed an already rich soul! He arrives at the unknown, and when, bewildered, he ends up losing his understanding of his visions, he has, at least, seen them! It doesn't matter if these leaps into the unknown kill him: other awful workers will follow him; they'll start at the horizons where the other has fallen! * The poet is really a thief of fire. [...] he must make sure his inventions live and breathe; if what he finds down below has a form, he offers form: if it is formless, he offers formlessness. Find the words;

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nik Kane

    I spent the summer of my 18th year in semi-voluntary exile on a tiny isle in the Adriatic. Of the few books I had room to pack I think two were different translations of Rimbaud and one was about him. I passed those four months drinking a lot, listening to a lot of Bob Marley, Bob Dylan and T-Rex, and reading Rimbaud constantly. These poems are so tied up in my mind with that period of time that I still can't read them without being instantaneously transported back there. Same with T-Rex's Elect I spent the summer of my 18th year in semi-voluntary exile on a tiny isle in the Adriatic. Of the few books I had room to pack I think two were different translations of Rimbaud and one was about him. I passed those four months drinking a lot, listening to a lot of Bob Marley, Bob Dylan and T-Rex, and reading Rimbaud constantly. These poems are so tied up in my mind with that period of time that I still can't read them without being instantaneously transported back there. Same with T-Rex's Electric Warrior. What we consume becomes a part of us, a part of our lives. It serves to locate us in time. A thousand books and songs spinning their gossamer webs across the surface of my life, tying disparate moments together through these persistent associations. Who says time-travel doesn't exist?

  5. 5 out of 5

    M.L. Rio

    I love Rimbaud and I really enjoy Mason's translations; they're faithful without being inflexible. I love Rimbaud and I really enjoy Mason's translations; they're faithful without being inflexible.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Neep

    Poetry has always been kinda dull to me. Some poetry is pretty, but I've never really seen the point to it. And then I discovered Rimbaud. The thing about Rimbaud is that you can't read his poetry without knowing at least some of his backstory. His religious upbringing. His frequent rebellions and escapes. His affair with Paul Verlaine. And then, most amazing of all, the fact that he stopped writing poetry before he hit 21. This collection is of everything that Rimbaud wrote, and he wrote it all at Poetry has always been kinda dull to me. Some poetry is pretty, but I've never really seen the point to it. And then I discovered Rimbaud. The thing about Rimbaud is that you can't read his poetry without knowing at least some of his backstory. His religious upbringing. His frequent rebellions and escapes. His affair with Paul Verlaine. And then, most amazing of all, the fact that he stopped writing poetry before he hit 21. This collection is of everything that Rimbaud wrote, and he wrote it all at an age that most would consider to still be childhood. A majority of these poems, however, are anything but immature. Really, I bought this book for A Season In Hell. I wasn't disappointed. "First Delirium" is heartbreaking. "Second Delirium" is beautiful. And with such quotable lines as "I turned silences and nights into words. What was unutterable, I wrote down. I made the whirling world stand still", it's no wonder it's his most famous work. I then started reading his other poems. Just a few, here and there. The thing I do when I'm reading is if I find a line that stands out to me, I put a sticky note on the corner of the page. I soon realised I was putting notes on nearly every other page. That's just how fantastic his words are. And yes, I realise this is just one translation of Rimbaud's work, but I can't help but feel that no matter who translated Rimbaud's poems, the beauty and truth of his words would still stand out to me. He's just that fucking good.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Amy (Other Amy)

    All I can think about this is that Rimbaud's work must really sing in French. Because this ... this is not good. It is not remotely great. This is the ranting of a teenage boy who did not want to grow up, did not want to be responsible. He insults his mother, but he always runs home to her. It seems to me that his reputation mostly rests on his shocking biography and his letters. (Of course, I recognize that timing is everything in literature; when he wrote, much of this must have seemed new and All I can think about this is that Rimbaud's work must really sing in French. Because this ... this is not good. It is not remotely great. This is the ranting of a teenage boy who did not want to grow up, did not want to be responsible. He insults his mother, but he always runs home to her. It seems to me that his reputation mostly rests on his shocking biography and his letters. (Of course, I recognize that timing is everything in literature; when he wrote, much of this must have seemed new and startling as well.) Mind you, the makings of greatness are here, but at the time he was writing (from the age of 15 to the age of 20) he did not have the experience to fill it out. And he knew that. His famous "I am depraving myself as much as I can," his ars poetica is based on gathering the experience he knew he needed. His drinking and drugging, his wild affair with Verlaine, his travels, all to explore his own otherness, his unknown, to become aware of and to cultivate himself with the express goal of knowing and writing so that others may then build on that work. But then: Science, the new nobility! Progress! The world moves!...And why shouldn't it? We have visions of numbers. We are moving toward the Spirit. What I say is oracular and absolutely right. I understand...and since I cannot express myself except in pagan terms, I would rather keep quiet. -from "Bad Blood" in A Season in Hell, 1873 And just two years after that, he quit writing. On October 14, 1875, six days shy of his 21st birthday, he writes his friend Ernest Delahaye "the hell with 'my craft and art,'" requesting information on pursuing a degree in science. The letter contains his last known poem, on soldiers farting. He then goes to travel, then a life as a trader in Africa. (And ooh, hello colonialism.) Truly, I regret that he did not continue. Maybe he could not. Maybe the wild living was part and parcel with the poetry for him and he could not write without it. I would have liked to see his poetry when he grew up. When he had had to live by the sweat of his brow and toil with the thorns and thistles as we all do, I would have liked to see what a man of his impressive craftsmanship could do with that wisdom. But I certainly don't begrudge him his turning to other things. I only wonder what might have been. I don't have any French with which to judge Paul Schmidt's translation, or I would be reading the originals of course, but his translations make perfectly good English verse. I appreciated his arrangement of the body of work into seasons bracketed by a brief biographical note and letters; it helped to place the poetry within Rimbaud's life. I did think it was incredibly petty of Mr. Schmidt to suggest that it would have been better for the poet to disappear or die young than suffer the banal life of business he turned to. There is more to life than just poetry, and Rimbaud died young enough at 37. Of what he left behind, this is probably my favorite (and it is an early work): Crows Lord, when the open field is cold, When in battered villages The endless angelus dies- Above the dark and drooping world Let the empty skies disclose Your dear, delightful crows. Armada dark with harsh cries, Your nests are tossed by icy winds! Along the banks of yellowed ponds, On roads where crumbling crosses rise, In cold and gray and mournful weather Scatter, hover, dive together! In flocks above the fields of France Where yesterday's dead men lie, Wheel across the winter sky; Recall our black inheritance! Let duty in your cry be heard, Mournful, black, uneasy bird. Yet in that oak, you saints of God, Swaying in the dying day, Leave the whistling birds of May For those who found, within that wood From which they will not come again, That every victory is vain. (c. 1870? During the Franco-Prussian War)

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jerry Landry

    Rimbaud is one of those literary figures that I find myself coming back to from time to time and always developing a new fascination and affection for.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ellie (faerieontheshelf)

    Arthur Rimbaud is one of my favourite poets and that’s that

  10. 4 out of 5

    Alex O'Brien

    This is a wonderful edition of Rimbaud's Complete Works in translation. Paul Schmidt, the translator, divides the poems into eight seasons according to the estimated chronology. There is a fine introduction to Rimbaud's work, and there are further introductory notes at the beginning of each season section, providing context to the poems. Rimbaud's letters are placed both throughout the text, and there's a large collection at the end in the eight season. This makes the book read somewhat like a me This is a wonderful edition of Rimbaud's Complete Works in translation. Paul Schmidt, the translator, divides the poems into eight seasons according to the estimated chronology. There is a fine introduction to Rimbaud's work, and there are further introductory notes at the beginning of each season section, providing context to the poems. Rimbaud's letters are placed both throughout the text, and there's a large collection at the end in the eight season. This makes the book read somewhat like a memoir as the reader progresses through the various comments, poems, and letters. Among the highlights for me were the sixth season, which includes the A Season in Hell poems, the seventh season, which contains the breathtaking poems Lines, Lives, and Cities I and II, and the last season in which his letters reveal the pain of Rimbaud's last years and unfold in tragedy. The only concern I had was in trying to identify which poems belonged to which books that have been published in the past: it's not easy for a novice like me to know which poems would have been included in Rimbaud's various works (i.e. Poesies, Illuminations, A Season in Hell). Perhaps a better cross-referencing would have helped. It was reading Bob Dylan's Complete Lyrics recently that brought me to Rimbaud's poems, and it was reading Rimbaud's Complete Works that brought me to re-listen to all of my Door's albums and to reread Jim Morrison's biography, No One Here Gets Out Alive.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    Another one that disappeared into the Goodreads void. Someone out there in another universe is probably enjoying it now. Anyways, one of my favorites. Makes me feel the way Kafka feels. Expresses deep and powerful emotion through words.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Petruccio Hambasket IV

    "In this moment of awakening, I had a vision of purity! Through the mind we go to God! What a crippling misfortune!" "In this moment of awakening, I had a vision of purity! Through the mind we go to God! What a crippling misfortune!"

  13. 4 out of 5

    Haruka

    He has cruelly, wildly, savagely, and oh, so beautifully scratched, ripped off his own flesh, his layers Bloody, raw, completely blunt, pure, everything and nothing All is clear in the violent red In the blood, in the teeth, in the aggression, in the claws He has ripped away all his flesh until he reaches his heart As he writes He is savagely ripping, biting, tearing apart his very essence, his beating heart He is dying and living Ripping and panting and breathing and biting There is blood So much blood The He has cruelly, wildly, savagely, and oh, so beautifully scratched, ripped off his own flesh, his layers Bloody, raw, completely blunt, pure, everything and nothing All is clear in the violent red In the blood, in the teeth, in the aggression, in the claws He has ripped away all his flesh until he reaches his heart As he writes He is savagely ripping, biting, tearing apart his very essence, his beating heart He is dying and living Ripping and panting and breathing and biting There is blood So much blood The claws savagely rip everything up There is blood Everywhere Wild eyes, white teeth Savage, pure, such beautiful aggression There is blood So much blood Beautiful aggression I burst with you

  14. 5 out of 5

    Dorie

    I discovered Rimbaud in High School, and since then his tormented and garroulous spirit have inspired me and I find myself returning to his prose and poetry often......this is a complete collection of his work, edited by Wyatt Mason; and I still read this like it was new and fresh to me. His words and wording bring up not just images, but an illusion that is immediately recognizable and relatable. This book is divided according to periods of his life, but every piece could stand alone. I find in I discovered Rimbaud in High School, and since then his tormented and garroulous spirit have inspired me and I find myself returning to his prose and poetry often......this is a complete collection of his work, edited by Wyatt Mason; and I still read this like it was new and fresh to me. His words and wording bring up not just images, but an illusion that is immediately recognizable and relatable. This book is divided according to periods of his life, but every piece could stand alone. I find in his work, so many sentences that to me are amazing and thought provoking. This is what stays with me, his words, and how he can twist a sentence to wrap around itself and leave you so sure of his emotive, you feel you could have written it yourself....

  15. 5 out of 5

    Gene Wagendorf III

    The best collection of Rimbaud's work I've read. Presents several translations of his work and justifies/explains why and how the editor got to the one they chose. Also includes some really great excerpts from Rimbaud's school notebooks, poems and little blurbs, that you won't find anywhere else. The best collection of Rimbaud's work I've read. Presents several translations of his work and justifies/explains why and how the editor got to the one they chose. Also includes some really great excerpts from Rimbaud's school notebooks, poems and little blurbs, that you won't find anywhere else.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sam Fickling

    My first reaction to reading the 'Complete Works' of Arthur Rimbaud was both one of shock and admiration. Shock because I'd never read anything like it before, and admiration because of my awareness of how young he was when he wrote his best poems. Of course, these feelings soon became mixed with countless others, for it seems that as soon as one encounters Rimbaud the poet, one can never look back. This was Henry Miller's experience of him, and it was no doubt mine as well. Encountering Rimbaud My first reaction to reading the 'Complete Works' of Arthur Rimbaud was both one of shock and admiration. Shock because I'd never read anything like it before, and admiration because of my awareness of how young he was when he wrote his best poems. Of course, these feelings soon became mixed with countless others, for it seems that as soon as one encounters Rimbaud the poet, one can never look back. This was Henry Miller's experience of him, and it was no doubt mine as well. Encountering Rimbaud the extraordinary man and the attendant extraordinary life (as I learned from reading Graham Robb's biography 'Rimbaud') would only intensify this, even if the poetry and the life are inseparable. With Rimbaud's poetry, everything depends on the pure and sometimes deranged expression (to reference Rimbaud's famous words on the "derangement of the senses") of poetic language, and this, coupled with his radically novel way of using it to intense effect, is what makes him a singular artist. Early 1870s-era poems like the visually hypnotising "The Drunken Boat" and the creatively composed "Vowels" are strong examples of this. The works from 'Illuminations', the imagery of which often dazzled me, also shouldn't be left out here. As another example, I found 'A Season in Hell', one of his longer prose poem efforts, brilliant for its haunting imagery and style. Translator Paul Schmidt's English rendering of Rimbaud's verse in the 'Complete Works' brings this brilliance to the surface for monolingual readers (even though I personally prefer other translations like Louise Varese's). The translated letters of Rimbaud (Paul Verlaine's, too) were also enthralling, especially the Africa period ones where he was constantly contending with some kind of physical or financial difficulty: they weren't always easy to read. They, one could say, possess their own inherent poetry, as Rimbaud's life was a kind of unpredictable epic poem, so to speak, one where tragedy had as much an equal say as promise. I'm sure reading a bilingual or French version of Rimbaud in addition wouldn't hurt either, since braving the original French of his work would surely be another reading experience altogether. I've covered few of the many aspects of Rimbaud's undeniable influence on the literature, poetry, music, theatre, art and even fashion of modern Western times. In this way there'll always be downsides to barely scraping the surface of any great poet's work, particularly Rimbaud's, but I hope this short review of the 'Complete Works' of Arthur Rimbaud has sufficed for now.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    I have very fond memories of finding Rimbaud. I was killing time in one of my favorite small bookstores before I was to meet friends and wound up in front of the poetry shelf on the second floor. His name sounded familiar to me from all my reading on Bob Dylan, and the wonderful movie "I'm Not There" where A.R. is played by Ben Whishaw ("R-I-M-B-A-U-D"), so I picked this volume off the shelf and started reading. An hour later I was still on the floor of the bookstore, late to my appointment, and I have very fond memories of finding Rimbaud. I was killing time in one of my favorite small bookstores before I was to meet friends and wound up in front of the poetry shelf on the second floor. His name sounded familiar to me from all my reading on Bob Dylan, and the wonderful movie "I'm Not There" where A.R. is played by Ben Whishaw ("R-I-M-B-A-U-D"), so I picked this volume off the shelf and started reading. An hour later I was still on the floor of the bookstore, late to my appointment, and was absolutely in love. To the point where I seriously considered picking up French in order to read him without the buffer of the translator. He gets language in a way that has only been rivaled by few other writers since Rimbaud's death. Recommended for the poor starving artists among you.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    I enjoyed this translation, though I like elements of the translation by Wyatt Mason better. If I find the time down the road, I would like to subject them to a more rigorous juxtaposition. I am particularly fond, as always, of "Un Saison en Enfer" and "Illuminations." I also found the letters more enjoyable this time around, particularly the earlier letters about his literary life. The later letters to his family were very sad, highlighting what he describes as a "miserable life." It helped me I enjoyed this translation, though I like elements of the translation by Wyatt Mason better. If I find the time down the road, I would like to subject them to a more rigorous juxtaposition. I am particularly fond, as always, of "Un Saison en Enfer" and "Illuminations." I also found the letters more enjoyable this time around, particularly the earlier letters about his literary life. The later letters to his family were very sad, highlighting what he describes as a "miserable life." It helped me rediscover my love and appreciation for Rimbaud and his marvelous poetic hallucinations, truly a "seer."

  19. 5 out of 5

    Alex M.

    Arthur Rimbaud is my favorite poet and I was looking for a book with all his work. I was expecting it to be good. I was not expecting it to be THIS good. The interventions elaborated by the author made it easier to understand the artistic evolution of he poet, his youth and influences. In the last period of his life Rimbaud gave up on poetry and the book is more a biography composed of letter, business plans, pain and sickness. (view spoiler)[ It was hard to read the letters where he was already Arthur Rimbaud is my favorite poet and I was looking for a book with all his work. I was expecting it to be good. I was not expecting it to be THIS good. The interventions elaborated by the author made it easier to understand the artistic evolution of he poet, his youth and influences. In the last period of his life Rimbaud gave up on poetry and the book is more a biography composed of letter, business plans, pain and sickness. (view spoiler)[ It was hard to read the letters where he was already giving up on life with no desire to live on. (hide spoiler)] I do thing that his poetry is one of the best and this book is well composed and relevant for his work. Truly recommend it.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    Rimbaud is one of my favorite poets, though I am not entirely sure how this translation stacks up against others. The opening lines in "A Season in Hell" are melodious and enticing. Among the poems contained herein, some stand out more than others, but it is, overall, an excellent work. Rimbaud is one of my favorite poets, though I am not entirely sure how this translation stacks up against others. The opening lines in "A Season in Hell" are melodious and enticing. Among the poems contained herein, some stand out more than others, but it is, overall, an excellent work.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Peter Landau

    Yet another book I should have read 30 years ago and just getting to now, COMPLETE WORKS by Arthur Rimbaud does remind me of a book I did read back when I was younger. That book is the USA TRILOGY by John Dos Passos. It’s not the subject matter or even the prose style, but the structure by translator Paul Schmidt captures with a wide lens the life of the poet. The poetry is collected chronologically, each section opening with a short biographical sketch of events in Rimbaud’s life at that period Yet another book I should have read 30 years ago and just getting to now, COMPLETE WORKS by Arthur Rimbaud does remind me of a book I did read back when I was younger. That book is the USA TRILOGY by John Dos Passos. It’s not the subject matter or even the prose style, but the structure by translator Paul Schmidt captures with a wide lens the life of the poet. The poetry is collected chronologically, each section opening with a short biographical sketch of events in Rimbaud’s life at that period, followed by the poems he wrote and then a selection of letter written by and to Rimbaud. It creates a full picture of his short life from his early childhood prodigy to his mastery of existing forms and then the explosion of his prose-poems “Seasons in Hell,” all of which is contrasted against his life of tangled affairs and constant travels. After the creative peak of “Seasons in Hell,” Rimbaud soon abandons poetry for business, including trading in slaves, and the book ends with a series of correspondences that would be mundane if not for the struggle to find financial success that ends with cancer, amputation and death.

  22. 5 out of 5

    J.M. Hushour

    As always remarked, it's remarkable that Rimbaud wrote most of his poetry, almost all of it, in fact, before he was 20 years old, spending the rest of his life traveling the world and selling coffee. Which is even more incredible because he really is an outstanding poet, well ahead of his time and setting the groundwork for Surrealism and symbolism and all kinds of avant-garde crap. The puzzling thing is how, why? But that hardly matters, since we'll never know. As for the poetry, it's brash and As always remarked, it's remarkable that Rimbaud wrote most of his poetry, almost all of it, in fact, before he was 20 years old, spending the rest of his life traveling the world and selling coffee. Which is even more incredible because he really is an outstanding poet, well ahead of his time and setting the groundwork for Surrealism and symbolism and all kinds of avant-garde crap. The puzzling thing is how, why? But that hardly matters, since we'll never know. As for the poetry, it's brash and often disturbing, often erotic and hairy-assed (no kidding). Rimbaud's torrid affair with Paul Verlaine is the axis for some of the poems here. Others are strikingly unjuvenile pith, lashing out playfully against the world.

  23. 5 out of 5

    C

    It seems Fowlie sacrifices much of the music and intelligibility of the original for the sake of using the same punctuation and syntax as the author. Notes are not useful and there are quite a few typos in the French version of the text.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    the most elegant way I can say it is, good shit.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Brent

    It is probable that if you mentioned the name Arthur Rimbaud to an acquaintance, in most social circles, they likely wouldn't know who he was. Which is an apt scenario that would've received approval from the man himself, given that Rimbaud, regarded as one of the greatest poets to ever have lived, wrote most of his work before the age of 18 and quit entirely by 21. Like most geniuses in the arts, it's difficult to know what he considered serious and what was a joke. There are poems in his body o It is probable that if you mentioned the name Arthur Rimbaud to an acquaintance, in most social circles, they likely wouldn't know who he was. Which is an apt scenario that would've received approval from the man himself, given that Rimbaud, regarded as one of the greatest poets to ever have lived, wrote most of his work before the age of 18 and quit entirely by 21. Like most geniuses in the arts, it's difficult to know what he considered serious and what was a joke. There are poems in his body of work that read like petulant ramblings from a juvenile delinquent, followed by poems that include verses and even lines that are, on their own merit, better than entire catalogues compiled by other cherished poets. I think because of this dichotomy he is such an engrossing character to read. To be so clearly young and immature in some writings, only to turn around and write venerable masterpieces (again and again and again) before an age in which most adolescents learn any vocation whatsoever, is nothing short of astounding. The complete collection also includes a variety of letters to and from Rimbaud throughout his life that attribute to his bohemian inclinations, his famed relationship with Paul Verlaine, his vile, perverse and mean nature (it was no secret that Rimbaud was, by most accounts, a pretty unpleasant person) and how he struggled with his place in the world. It's interesting to think about Rimbaud's unquestionable influence on the world of the arts post 19th-century, and reconcile that with how staggering his anonymity remains. But perhaps, in the end, he would be glad of it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    So it turns out I've been quoting Arthur Rimbaud before I even knew who he was. Rimbaud is another key writer in the origin story for lots of twentieth century writers and it's easy to see why. Like Baudelaire, Rimbaud is a key part of the transition from traditional to modernism. I'm going to focus on A Season in Hell because - there's no competition - it's his greatest work and is basically the bible and everything after it is the extended edition. It reminded me of Inferno, it was Surreal bef So it turns out I've been quoting Arthur Rimbaud before I even knew who he was. Rimbaud is another key writer in the origin story for lots of twentieth century writers and it's easy to see why. Like Baudelaire, Rimbaud is a key part of the transition from traditional to modernism. I'm going to focus on A Season in Hell because - there's no competition - it's his greatest work and is basically the bible and everything after it is the extended edition. It reminded me of Inferno, it was Surreal before Surrealism was a thing, it was very self-conscious, and it placed the author in a position of what is biography and what is complete fiction. There's so much lit theory you could apply to this. Reading A Season in Hell along with his older poetry (as this edition is a collected works) enriched my reading of the poem as I have seen with my own eyes Rimbaud's development from mimicking his contemporaries to becoming extraordinary. He also references some of his other poems which is a nice little nod. This edition ends with his letters after he retired from poetry at the old age of 21. I always saw Rimbaud as a live fast, die young kinda guy - and yes he did die young - but he lived until he was 38 and to an extent lived a mundane life. Comparing his personal letters to A Season in Hell is as tricking contrast. It is hedonistic youth versus dull reality. It is strange and tragic. Anyone who vaguely likes literature and poetry needs to read some Rimbaud- especially A Season in Hell.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Michael A.

    reminds me of a puerile, playful Baudelaire. Seasons of Hell i think is where he develops his own unique sense of style - very good. The letters interspersed were almost as interesting as the poems themselves - especially his tumultuous relationship with Paul Verlaine. The last section that dealt purely with his business dealings in Abyssinia can safely be skipped over if you have interest only in his poetry and not his biography in general - not to mention his racism can get grating.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jason Friedlander

    It took me forever to finally finish this because I found the last section to be too depressing to read through, yet it somehow makes it all the more beautifully mythic, despite the editor at one point candidly letting out— “Could he not simply have disappeared? Or died young?” Essential reading and one I know I’ll be coming back to in the future, hopefully in French, if I can ever muster the competency for Rimbaud's gloriously dense and weathered verse. It took me forever to finally finish this because I found the last section to be too depressing to read through, yet it somehow makes it all the more beautifully mythic, despite the editor at one point candidly letting out— “Could he not simply have disappeared? Or died young?” Essential reading and one I know I’ll be coming back to in the future, hopefully in French, if I can ever muster the competency for Rimbaud's gloriously dense and weathered verse.

  29. 5 out of 5

    BC Batcheshire

    I suppose I'll never tire of this perfect rebel or the purity of his abandon and passion. Still the ultimate poet, in my heart. I suppose I'll never tire of this perfect rebel or the purity of his abandon and passion. Still the ultimate poet, in my heart.

  30. 4 out of 5

    David M.

    Although I'm far than fluent in French, the translation of this volume of Rimbaud's poetry is quite suspicious. Again, to be fair, this is my first reading of the poet's works, apart from a reading of "The Drunken Boat" in a World Literature class, but right from the start the translator engages in a pretension of the worst kind. "This is my Rimbaud", he openly admits, and while such an admission is probably intended to elicit the reader's complicity, the purple prose of the translator grates as Although I'm far than fluent in French, the translation of this volume of Rimbaud's poetry is quite suspicious. Again, to be fair, this is my first reading of the poet's works, apart from a reading of "The Drunken Boat" in a World Literature class, but right from the start the translator engages in a pretension of the worst kind. "This is my Rimbaud", he openly admits, and while such an admission is probably intended to elicit the reader's complicity, the purple prose of the translator grates as he introduces each section of Rimbaud's "seasons": the poetry is divided into biographical sections that produce a portrait of the artist as the enfant terrible of the French poetry scene of the mid-nineteenth century. Although it is the translator's perogative to either let the text stand on its own, or to rely on biography to give the poetry some context, Schmidt veers too far in the direction of biography, and foregoes any kind of attempt to engage in a discussion of the poetry itself. Not that Rimbaud is impossibly dense; his symbols of wanderlust are recognizable, and his images of distant lands in the East stir up the desire to travel in the extreme regions of the planet. However, bizarre word choices on the part of the translator without any kind of justification (like the original poem on the facing page, or, at least, in the back of the volume) ultimately render the poems into the kind of juvenilia scrawled on the wall of a public bathroom; or, at least one used by bored poets. There's still enough in Rimbaud's writing to warrant a second look, especially in a much more reliable edition. Perhaps the cover should have been my first clue: should I have really picked up an edition that looks like it was produced by Andy Warhol?

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