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Illuminations

4.41  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,909 Ratings  ·  180 Reviews
The prose poems of the great French Symbolist, Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891), have acquired enormous prestige among readers everywhere and have been a revolutionary influence on poetry in the twentieth century. They are offered here both in their original texts and in superb English translations by Louise Varèse. Mrs. Varèse first published her versions of Rimbaud’sIlluminati ...more
Paperback, 182 pages
Published January 17th 1957 by New Directions (first published 1875)
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The Complete Poems by Emily DickinsonLeaves of Grass by Walt WhitmanShakespeare's Sonnets by William ShakespeareThe Waste Land and Other Poems by T.S. EliotAriel by Sylvia Plath
Best Poetry Books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Rodney
Jul 08, 2011 Rodney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I feel a little about Ashbery translating Rimbaud the way I did about Pavement once closing a show with two Velvet Underground covers. With both, there’s a touching tip of the hat to one’s roots, but also a little bit of giving the game away. Not that either has to worry about the charge of being derivative (if anything, Ashbery’s Rimbaud sounds more like elegant, bittersweet, cast-off mot juste Ashbery than it does the Johnny Rotten of French lit), but the effects that made each stand out from ...more
Zanna
Jan 28, 2016 Zanna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, france, translated
Either Rimbaud is a bit like a popular brand of salty yeast extract or I have no poetic sensibility at all. Oh well.
Tosh
Aug 02, 2011 Tosh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think what's amazing here is that a magnificent American Poet John Ashbery at the age 83 (or something like that) translated the great poetry of Arthur Rimbaud, whose poems were written when he was in his teens. The ultimate teenage rebel icon touched by the grand poet of American letters, whose work is still controversial and has a bite. One wonders what took so long?
The truth is in this book, well, kind of. Rimbaud will always be this cloud that floats above us. It is there to be captured an
...more
Don
Jun 28, 2011 Don rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't stop reading books alongside Infinite Jest.

Today I checked out Ashbery's new translation of Illuminations from the library and read it in one sitting in my kitchen. I'm glad I did it. It's a beautiful book. I don't know much French, but I will fight anyone who says this is not a good translation.

Really, we should all be singing these poems to each other. We should've fought for the last copies in bookstores and read them all the first night they were published. If we care about poetry an
...more
Maria Carmo
It is not that the book is not well written: the words flow like lava and burn everything in their way... It is the images those words form, that is not appealing in my case... The vision portrayed by the author is far too psychedelic for my taste... Reading these Illuminations, one has the feeling of an openness directly into a sort of unknown chaos: all language becomes little more than a tool through which the author informs his readers about his inner hell...
Beautiful as some sentences are,
...more
COME_TO_THE_DARK_SIDE
Arthur Rimbaud tiene un estilo único y una gran tenacidad para expresar sus sentimientos. En esta obra quedan plasmados los miedos y sentimientos del autor. En el poema Ciudad expresa su descontento con la sociedad y el estilo de vida de las personas. El poema más extenso es Infancia, donde relata su infancia solitaria y sus memorias.

Como se puede apreciar, tratan temas diversos pero todos relacionados de algún modo con nuestra vida cotidiana. Considero que esta es su mejor obra, muy por encima
...more
Nils
Jan 03, 2015 Nils rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First off, it's insane, while you're reading this, to realize this was written by a twenty year old. More if you think this was just about when he gave up on writing.

I'm not sure how far the premise holds that nearly everything in Illuminations is about drug or drink induced experiences. A lot almost certainly came from it, but reading the notes I couldn't always find agreement with that idea. In my opinion, this would take away from Rimbaud's talent instead of add to the impossible grandness o
...more
David Lentz
Jun 20, 2011 David Lentz rated it it was amazing
The mark of an extraordinary writer to me has always had something to do with whether the writer's genre was enhanced by the writer. This is a tall order, I know, but the very best writers change the way that their genre is perceived. Rimbaud's prose poems challenged the traditonal style of the Romantics who wrote before him. He brought a sharp, new incandescence, a flaring literary reality, a breakthrough perception to poetry expressed by his point of view. His stirring soul is seared by his ep ...more
Şahika
Feb 23, 2016 Şahika rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, classics
Birçok eleştirmene göre "Illuminations" Rimbaud'nun en önemli ve teknik açıdan en karmaşık çalışması. Okumadan önce Rimbaud hakkında biraz araştırma yapmakta fayda var. (Örneğin: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/a...)

Sembolizmin bu büyük temsilcisinin düzyazı şiirlerinden oluşan "Illuminations"u Fransızcadan okuyabilmek daha iyi olurdu.
Mohammad Ali
نمره ی واقعی: دو و نیم

به نظر من مهمترین نکته در مورد این اشعار - حداقل در قالب این ترجمه - غلبه ی شدید ابهام است. گمان می کنم بدون مراجعه به یک شرح، نتوان بهره ی مناسبی از اشعار برد - هم به دلیل ارجاعات فرهنگی و هم به دلیل ساختارها و واژه های غریب رمبو؛ البته اشعار پایانی کمتر دچار این ابهامند

نبود شرح در این ترجمه آشکارا به چشم می خورد. درست است که الهی پانوشت های زیادی برای اشعار نگاشته است اما این پانوشت ها اغلب در مورد چرایی ترجمه های اویند و نه در مورد منظور رمبو

در مورد ترجمه، صرفا از روی ظو
...more
Dahlia
Feb 20, 2015 Dahlia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Frankly, I do not know why I still bother with poetry. It is not, and apparently never will be a favourable genre of mine. Unjust rating, perhaps; but this very much resembles plain text to me.
Michael Steger
Jan 14, 2012 Michael Steger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Ashbery translating Rimbaud seems such a logical, even natural pairing, that it is surprising it hasn't happened sooner. (Should we believe Ashbery when in the acknowledgments of his translation of Rimbaud's Illuminations, he thanks Norton editor Robert Weil for giving him the idea?) Ashbery has said that he was about 16 when he first encountered Rimbaud’s poetry, which happens to be about the same time that Ashbery was reading closely the poetry of W. H. Auden. In 1956, Auden would select ...more
Elisabeth
Feb 01, 2013 Elisabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stars seem difficult here (for translation? for R or A or both?), because I read another translation of *Illuminations* some time ago, and remember feeling like I was reading a translation. But Ashbery's Rimbaud is something quite different, more immediate, and perhaps one way of living out "I is someone else" ("Je est un autre.") To reference lines I'll use "R/A" (Resident Assistant? Recycled Author?).

In "Historic Evening" R/A bemoans the Romantic hangover: "...it's no longer possible to submit
...more
S.D. Johnson
Jun 22, 2011 S.D. Johnson rated it it was amazing
My first whole book in French & even more than I expected. With language like carved crystal, a text infused with rapture, despair, a kind of monkish dereliction.... We are drawn into its supreme egoism, an egoism which doesn't long to dominate the reader, but to simply celebrate (rightfully) its own supremacy of voice, & one I think not only fascinating in its description of other times & lands... but reaching its greatest fulfillment in a nostalgia for things which have never exist ...more
Lesfleurs Dumal
Nov 07, 2009 Lesfleurs Dumal rated it it was amazing
This just blew my mind, so impetuous and with such incredible visions. Rimbaud knew something we didn't. And at such a young age? How would anyone know to write such incredible things and to improve on the poetic fashionable/revolutionary fashion of symbolism? How did he have all this figured out? I'm just amazed at his prescience and aggression. I would have loved to have known such a shooting star!

Les F.
Caroline
I happen to have the Paul Schmidt and Louise Varese translations as well, and find that each of them has more felicitous versions of particular phrases but that no one translator stands out for me as far above the others. Ashberry and Varese are more literal, but I think I like Schmidt’s slightly looser translation as perhaps being more evocative in being less mechanically accurate.
Vishnu Vardhan
Jun 18, 2015 Vishnu Vardhan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I doubt my own worthiness to review such sublime material. Although I usually avoid deifying literature, what Rimbaud does here is not the stuff of mortals. He truly is the only one capable of the savage slideshow he presents here as illuminations. Sheer brilliance, this. It's such a shame that I do not have a working knowledge of French to read the original but Ashberry seems to have done as stellar job with the translation. Recommended reading for anyone and everyone who chooses to rise above ...more
Ed Smiley
Jul 23, 2012 Ed Smiley rated it it was amazing
What do you make of an author that hands a work for publication to an ex-lover who shot him?

The imagery is vivid, idiosyncratic hermetic and strangely beautiful, and anticipates surealism.

Ashbery has, as far as I can tell, done an excellent job in translation. The original and translation appear on opposite sides. I don't speak French in any meaningful sense, but there is a an exquisite sound sense in his language that I can pick up in a vague sense in reading (and doubtless mispronouncing) pass
...more
Carolyn
Aug 12, 2014 Carolyn rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Sad, sad, sad. Ashbery is a magnificent poet in his own right, but has wholly butchered this translation of Rimbaud. With the French-and-English bitext herein, it is easy to see that J.A. is lacking in his knowledge of the French language. Everything is denoted far too literally, with Rimbaud's sentence structures adopting the grammatical stylings of an automatically-translated French-to-English text.

Kinder reviewers than I have rendered this edition as "meticulously faithful [...] Ashbery’s ap
...more
Isla McKetta
While I very much enjoyed the relationship between the French and the English texts as they broke across pages, the writing itself did little for me. Some nice images or sounds here and there (hard to avoid gorgeous sound in French), but I wished I was more into it.
Gabriel Clarke
Coruscating, revitalising stuff. Half poetry, half space opera.
Frankie
Dec 09, 2011 Frankie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french
I've wanted to read A Season in Hell for a while, but when I saw the rave reviews of Ashbery's translation of Les Illuminations I decided to start with this. I'm very happy with it. Having the French alongside is great, especially for the untranslatable cadence of pieces like "Mouvement" and "Marine," both incredibly colorful and hypnotic poems. I know little French, just enough to read very privately and savor the audible flow of the phrase.

The themes are prescient of the 20th century's dadaism
...more
David Jenkins
Feb 20, 2013 David Jenkins rated it it was amazing
I have not in fact read all of this "long-awaited" translation by John Ashbery (the clumsy excerpts of the translation I saw in magazines did not exactly whet my appetite), but read it first in French in about 1952 and many times since. Rimbaud is without doubt one of the most fascinating literary figures who ever lived. His astounding capacity to manipulate language is in my opinion rivaled only by Shakespeare's, and Rimbaud is even more astonishing in that he didn't go through a period of appr ...more
Selena
May 23, 2010 Selena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, 2010
We have faith in the poison. We know how to give our whole life every day. – Morning of Drunkenness

Rimbaud has quickly become a favourite. I’ve re-read this book thrice over the last month, finding new things to delight me each time around.

I’m in love with his words. But I’m also fascinated by him. All of his works were written in his mid to late teens. He gave up writing altogether by the age of 21. One of the French enfant terrible, he caused quite the ruckus during his lifetime (which was, in
...more
Erez Davidi
Feb 11, 2016 Erez Davidi rated it liked it
I had been debating with myself for quite a long time whether to read this book or not. (You'd be surprised how much time is spent researching books before I decide to read them). Finally, I decided to read it chiefly because I know that one of my favorite musicians, Bob Dylan, was a big admirer of Arthur Rimbaud. Apparently, it wasn't a good indication, or Bob Dylan just idealized Rimbaud's wild life style and, to a lesser degree, his poems.

Admittedly, I am no poetry expert. However, on a basic
...more
Scot
Nov 02, 2013 Scot rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Fantastic work, I have read bits and pieces of Rimbaud through the years though never sat down with an specific collection. This was a great one to start with. I am not sure I know how to read and fully immerse myself in all poetry but this was easy to enter and quickly took me away. Though much of what I have read has been a brilliant view into his angst, his relationship with Verlaine, etc. this set had a much more metaphysical/theosophical feel to it and included absolutely beautiful fragment ...more
Jeffrey Cyphers Wright
Apr 07, 2011 Jeffrey Cyphers Wright rated it it was amazing
Rimbaud writes with a writhing pen while Ashbery translates with a titillating tongue. Chromatiques become gossip columns. Reading along with the original French is a treat. These poems are the step off into modernity. Their wild oxymorons scintillate stirring up hideous joy! Abysmal delight! Nights of brilliant and clear-eyed delirium!
Fairies, flowers and flea markets take turns standing in as subjects while the poet posits preposterous notions. War, women and woe are seen through a theatrical
...more
Mj
Feb 27, 2010 Mj rated it really liked it
I had been wanting to read Rimbaud for some time because several other writers and artists I like have mentioned him as an influence. While reading it I felt I was reading something by an adolescent know-it-all, smugly basking in his own tragedy. Of course, I was- Rimbaud did all his famous writing before he reached 20. Much of it went over my head, but I would also find passages that really stood out to me. It's poetry - you can't just sit down and read it like a romance novel or a mystery. It ...more
Megan
Rimbaud's poetry forms a heartbreaking crystallization of being a young tortured artist in late 19th century France. His poems are stunningly beautiful but it's maddening to think he wrote most of them before he turned 20. He's the quintessential enfant terrible, but he's so pretty, and his poems are amazing.

I like to read these out loud to my cats; sometimes in English but usually in the French. That's why I love dual language editions like these so much. It's a fantasy of mine to find a woman
...more
Toni
Apr 21, 2012 Toni rated it it was amazing
When I was 18, I bought this book and have carried it with me ever since. Rimbaud was 15 when he started writing his symbolistic prose, no one had ever done that before. He wrote until he was 19. He was Verlaine's lover(the great romantic poet) who felt that Rimbaud's work was extraordinary and it was. At 19, rimbaud stopped writing. He went to Africa and explored parts no white man had ever ventured.He died at 37- This French schoolboy carnet's filled with words, influenced Henry Miller, the Be ...more
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  • Paris Spleen
  • Alcools
  • Artaud Anthology
  • Sonnets to Orpheus
  • Selected Poems
  • Collected Poems and Other Verse
  • Maldoror and the Complete Works
  • The Tennis Court Oath
  • Selected Writings
  • Poems of Paul Celan
  • Paterson
  • Poetry as Insurgent Art
  • The Complete Poems
  • Aurélia and Other Writings
  • The Maximus Poems
  • Hymns to the Night
72605
French poet and adventurer, who stopped writing verse at the age of 21, and became after his early death an inextricable myth in French gay life. Rimbaud's poetry, partially written in free verse, is characterized by dramatic and imaginative vision. "I say that one must be a visionary - that one must make oneself a VISIONARY." His works are among the most original in the Symbolist movement. Rimbau ...more
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“True alchemy lies in this formula: ‘Your memory and your senses are but the nourishment of your creative impulse’.” 174 likes
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