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A Season in Hell & Illuminations

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  2,511 Ratings  ·  84 Reviews
“The definitive translation for our time.”
–Edward Hirsch

From Dante’s Inferno to Sartre’s No Exit, writers have been fascinated by visions of damnation. Within that rich literature of suffering, Arthur Rimbaud’s A Season in Hell–written when the poet was nineteen–provides an astonishing example of the grapple with self.

As a companion to Rimbaud’s journey, readers could hav
Paperback, Modern Library Classics, 240 pages
Published August 9th 2005 by Modern Library (first published 1873)
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May 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A friend's boyfriend in college pounded on my door at 3am. I woke up groggy and let him in. "Hey, you like poetry, right? Well I got a poem for ya." Ok, I said. I sat on the bed and he began to read "Once if I remember it well, my life was a feast where all hearts opened and all wines flowed..." He read on and on... I said "How long is this poem?" He said "It's the whole book!" I laughed. And we became good friends, and have been ever since. Rimbaud introduced us.
Teresa Proença
"Quando o mundo estiver reduzido a um só bosque negro para os nossos olhos espantados — a uma praia para duas crianças sinceras, — a uma casa musical para a nossa clara simpatia — encontrar-vos-ei.
Quando aqui só haja um velho, belo e calmo, rodeado de um «luxo inaudito» — ajoelhar-me-ei.
Quando for eu toda a vossa memória — seja aquela que sabe garrotar-vos — estrangular-vos-ei."

* * *

"Quando somos muito fortes, — quem recua? muito alegres, — quem cai no ridículo? Quando somos muito maus, — que fa
M.L. Rio
Sep 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Rimbaud is a regular autumn read for me, and every time I find another captivating detail I somehow overlooked before.
ilknur a.k.a. iko ◬
Rimbaud hakkında çok şey söylenmiş, çok şey yazılmış ve çok fazla incelenmiş. Ben yoruma sadece okurken 'ne okuduğumu hissettiğim'i yazacağım.

4 şey ile tanımlayabilirim Rimbaud'u: bilinçli esriklik, yoğun metaforlar, anlatımsı tirat, düz yazı.

- Çok yakın zamanda Baudelaire okuduğum için etkilerini az çok görebildim. bunun başlıcası bu esriklik dediğimizde daha güzel olan LSD kafası yani ister gözün arkası deyin, ister gözün önünden çekilmiş perde, bunları aşarak şiir yazma çabası bu. bazen mad
Jan 11, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Sean
Recommended to Hilary by: Megan McPherson
Shelves: fiction, own, poetry, 2010
A Season in Hell & Illuminations was a book that I was introduced to in the dead of night. I was handed the text and asked to read and, being me, proceeded to open to random pages and read aloud in an impassioned tone. When read like this - in the middle of the night with all of its magic and attractions, the text is like fire.

Rimbaud's words alternatively scorch and caress, they raise up the most enlivened fancies and play out dark fantasies unlike anything else one could ever be exposed to
Simon Robs
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Sheer poetical madness no outcome. Better if could read French I'll bet.
Dec 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am going to try to make this review brief, particularly as I've already reviewed about 4 other translations of Rimbaud's poetry (by Varèse, Fowlie, Mason and Schmidt) and in my last review of one of these (of Schmidt's treatment of Rimbaud) I made a concise comparison of each of the different translations, really putting my support behind Mason's translation, finding Fowlie too literal and feeling that Schmidt took too many liberties in his translation.

Bertrand Mathieu's translation of A Seas
A Season in Hell & Illuminations, transl. Wyatt Mason
Having become absurdly near apoplectic in the search for a translation of Baudelaire that I loved, I let enjoyment return by instead reading one of his close kin. There wasn't a shortage of Rimbaud translations which felt right; Louise Varese or John Sturrock, or this one I chose for reasons I can't exactly remember.

As these are prose poems without conventional, clear focus, sometimes more like notes, I thought some readers must decided t
Jun 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: gloomy doomy kids
When I was a mere slip of a boy and my flesh tasted like chicken and goth had not quite creeped into non-existence I would sulk in dimly lit buses reading Rimbaud.
"Illuminations" reminds me of Baudelaire's "Paris Spleen" in that these are not poems so much as they are prose pieces, little snatches of light of varying shades. This is good reading on rainy nights.
Jeff Jackson
Aug 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone looking for good Rimbaud translation
Translations matter with Rimbaud. Francophile extraordinaire and Rimbaud enthusiast Dennis Cooper rates Enid Peschel Rhodes' translation published by Oxford Univrersity Press as the best. For my taste, he's absolutely right.
Vilém Zouhar
May 12, 2015 rated it liked it
Many of you might find this book depressing or even pessimistic. But I think of it rather as a celebration of life.
After reading the first two sentences I realised I need to know something about Rimbaud himself first. The book seems like the manifestation of his whole life. If you're about to read this book, read something about Rimbaud first too (one wikipedia article is sufficent).
I came to this book because of Kudera's books, where there are several references to Rimbaud and the whole Kundera
Mar 01, 2012 rated it did not like it
"i hate this." i accidentally saw a death metal band live one time and that's what the singer kept screaming into the mic (as the other band members threw beers and ripped-up bible pages at the audience). but really, i hate this. i don't get these poems or whatever. illuminations contains surreal scenes that just fly over me and paint nothing for me. a season in hell was OK though. only very rarely did this collection click with me.
Oct 29, 2008 is currently reading it
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
poets repulse me with their god forsaken wankerings. However, I've decided that I can include most other artists and humans for that matter, in the repulsive category so I decided to set my hatred aside and get this book. I'm really enjoying it.
Mar 02, 2007 rated it liked it
i read this during my personal season in hell that i thought would never end. it was good to know that rimbaud and i have some things in common.
Oct 10, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What to say? It's Rimbaud, and on one hand I really enjoy reading this book, but on the other, I don't. At all. It may take me a few more of his books to find out whether I like him or not.
Agris Fakingsons
May 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
..vietām šī grāmata bija izcilības paraugdemonstrējums!
Nov 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
This is the Mark Taharne translation; in his introduction he spells out the enormous difficulties involved with translating and interpreting the poetry, and advises readers to look at as many translations as possible.
I got this off the shelf yesterday to coincide with the BBC Radio 3 production in its series 'Between the Ears'. The latter is a marvellous ongoing immersion in 'soundscapes', music, song and spoken word. The R3 site and its blog say of this production:

An abridged radio reworking o
Jacques Coulardeau

Ce texte est magique, ensorcelé, maudit, magnifique, pervers, exquis de délicatesse et de naïveté, envoûtant du pêché d’innocence et du crime de simplicité d’esprit. Il est un délire sans fin mais sans commencement non plus sur l’impossibilité dans laquelle Rimbaud se trouvait de simplement se poser dans une des boîtes cubiques qui sont sensées être l’habitat de chacun de nous dans une société moderne. Et qu’aurait-il souffert s’i
Ian Forsyth
A Season in Hell quotes:

it dawned on me to look again for the key to that ancient party where I might find my appetite once more.
I despise all trades. Foreman and workmen--all of them, peasants, riff-raff. The hand that writes is as good as the hand that ploughs.--What a century of hands!--I'll never own my own hand. Next, domesticity goes too far. The honesty of begging sickens me. Criminals are as disgusting as castrati. Myself, I'm intact, and I don't give a damn.
the gospel's passe!
I wait for
Aug 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Season in Hell is a poem published in 1873. I first heard of this book from Eddie and the Cruisers movie. I have been wanting to read this book for about 20 years. This is a work of genius about dealing with change and dealing with being very different in the century where change is difficult. The most remarkable part of this book is that we are still dealing the same issues today, mental health and homosexuality and a society on the cusp on change. Change is hard to deal with and in his words, ...more
Oct 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Rimbaud skillfully draws the reader into the world of damnation, the world of the self. He confronts the essence of nihilism and self-loathing in this remarkable poem, composed at the astonishing age of 19. Like Dante, Milton, and perhaps Pound, Rimbaud is able to bend the language to engage the reader in a transcendental understanding of the human condition and psyche.

There are poems in here of promethean beauty that prefigure the rebellious spirit of French artistic bohemians in the dawn of t
Dec 23, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
Along with prose author Louis-Ferdinand Celine (the astounding hypocrite) and Cervantes (talented but misguided oaf) Arthur Rimbaud is one of the few classic authors I strenuously avoid. I shun him, his work, and his reputation. I will allow only that he had precocious, ahead-of-his-years skill in constructing poems; but not that he has any particular message or set of ideas worth attending upon.

Why? Because practically no 18 yr old boy has anything relevant to say to me about anything. I don't
Joakim Paz
Sep 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Nada de cânticos: manter a posição conquistada. Noite de pedra! o
sangue seco suja-me o rosto, e não posso contar com coisa alguma
atrás de mim, a não ser este horrível arbusto!... O combate espiritual
é tão brutal quanto a batalha dos homens; mas a visão da justiça é
unicamente o prazer de Deus.
Entretanto, é chegada a véspera. Recebamos todos os influxos do
vigor e da ternura verdadeira. E, à aurora, revestidos de ardente
paciência, entraremos as esplêndidas cidades.
Que dizia eu de mão amiga! Já é im
Jan 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
If someone told me this was the greatest work of literature anyone had ever created, I wouldn't necessarily disagree. Rimbaud's style, not quite poetry and certainly not prose, took the writing world by storm and changed it forever. His work has gone on to influence everyone from Joyce to the Beats to John Lennon. Dark, tortured, tragic, magnificent, and solely unique and original even after a hundred years. It'd be difficult to think of someone more influential than Rimbaud and the short but in ...more
Tom Lee
Jan 13, 2016 rated it it was ok
Oh, Rimbaud! The lunatic, romantic side of me was screaming, yes, yes! Tell me more about those flies drunk on piss at a country inn, how morality is a weakness of the brain, how you became a fabulous opera! Speak to me of the dark heaven of love where we are left poor, deaf, dumb and blind for our pains; of how life corrodes us and leaves our hair and armpits crawling with worms.

The rest of me wanted to quote Melvin Udall from As Good As It Gets: “Go sell crazy someplace else, we’re all stocked
Mar 29, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Let's say I'm not in the proper frame of mind to read this kind of work and actually relate to it emotionally. I get how much he was suffering (and how completely stoned he was when he wrote it) but it didn't move me much and that's one of the things I value the most about poetry so... Maybe it was the translation. Maybe if I knew enough French to read it in its original version.... Nah, maybe not even then.
Mar 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
The most passionate collection of poetry I've ever read. At times hateful, raging, self-deprecating, pitiful, and serene. The only English translation worth reading is the one by Bertrand Mathieu. This is simply the two greatest books of French poetry collected into one. He speaks like a prophet condemning himself to hell. His prose poetry is striking, has beautiful cadence, powerful imagery, and is delivered with tremendous ferocity.
Jul 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Such youthful passion and extreme feelings. This is forever the work of youth and wild abandon. Never read anything by Rimbaud until A Season Of Hell and was bowled over by the words...such beautiful, elegant, and fiery words! Have reread this twice and can really see what all the fuss is about for Rimbaud.
��If I had to name a favorite poet, it would probably be Arthur Rimbaud. His work is rich with imagery and meaning, each poem holding an entire story. Even better is the way this collection works as a whole, reading like an epic saga. It's a rare thing when I enjoy sitting down to read poetry, but I would happily return to this book time and again.
Apr 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
Rimbaud wrote all his poems by the age of 21. the depth of insight and creativity from such a young man are humbling. one wonders if he had any more to say and couldn't express it or if whatever drove his literary aspirations was dissipated by his twenties.
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French poet and adventurer, who stopped writing verse at the age of 19, and who 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. R ...more
More about Arthur Rimbaud...
“Life is the farce we are all forced to endure.” 146 likes
“I found I could extinguish all human hope from my soul.” 73 likes
More quotes…