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A Season in Hell & Illuminations (Modern Library Classics) Paperback – August 9, 2005
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–Editor’s Choice, A- Entertainment Weekly
“An important new rendering of a major poet.”
“Mason's translations are confident and contemporary–muscular but without muscling in on the originals. There is no crabby diction, but neither is there that self conscious pseudo-hipness with which it's all too tempting to render Rimbaud's lolling truculence of pose. Mason's approach has been to aim for common (as distinct from middle) ground between the literalist and the free, and the decision to translate successive versions and drafts pays off too, letting English-speaking readers see the genesis of poems and trace their often substantial alterations. Mason gets Rimbaud's range across impressively.”
–The Times Literary Supplement
“Mason does a splendid job in arrangement and translation.”
“Wyatt Mason's translations of Rimbaud's literary works manage, more than any others, to convey to contemporary ears the real sense of the work. Previous attempts had strained to maintain a sense of the French style or an equivalence in rhyme and form. For all their good intentions, these ideals forced the renderings into awkward locutions or pretentiously formal tropes, making Rimbaud sound as much like a biblical elder as a modern poet. Mason has finally given us an English Rimbaud we can read as we should, as if he were kin to Jack Kerouac, to Charles Bukowski, to Jim Morrison [É] his Rimbaud Complete will surely live on as the standard edition.
–The Toronto Star
“Wyatt Mason’s [translations] capture the rigours of the original.”
–London Review of Books
“Exceptional new translator Wyatt Mason limns the afterlife of Arthur Rimbaud's 37 chaotic years on Earth É There is no small literary excitement in this, one of the best Rimbaud translations in English and certainly the most complete.”
–Editor’s Choice, Buffalo News
“A monumental achievementÉa book to treasure.”
–Scotland on Sunday
Praise for Wyatt Mason’s
Rimbaud Complete, Volume 2: I Promise to be Good, The Letters
“Perhaps you know him only by myth: Bad boy rebel poet, possibly gay but probably bisexual, lover of the lesser poet Paul Verlaine, survivor of literary and romantic scenes worthy of Norman Mailer. [É] Wyatt Mason, in a word, detests all that; he shows us, in his straightforward translations of these letters from the second half of Rimbaud's life (ages 19 to 37), a man dedicated to factual information, a simple but elegant describer of the foreign lands [É] a man who gives up poetry to look at the world with a disciplined eye, who sleeps outdoors for the last 20 years of his life–now there's a writer you can sink your teeth into.”
–The Los Angeles Times
“The book is fascinating for the voice it revealsÉthe postpoetic Rimbaud, the man glimpsed in bracingly cold letters sent to his family. [É] Mason’s translation is crisp and lively, and his clear-eyed introduction is essential reading for anyone besotted with the image of the poet as tragic figure.”
–Time Out New York
“Mason, the American translator who last year published Rimbaud's collected poems in English [unveils] an Apollonian craftsman, one who took infinite pains to achieve perfection of expression [É]. Mason's an agile, skillful translator.”
“Thanks to Wyatt Mason’s masterly translations, Rimbaud has, after a century and a half, recovered his gift.”
“Modern Library’s Rimbaud Complete, translated and edited by Wyatt MasonÉincludes all of Rimbaud’s poetry as well as uncollected writings ranging from Latin school compositions to fragments of poems reconstructed by his acquaintances. This is now joined by I Promise to Be Good: The Letters of Arthur Rimbaud, the largest sampling of the poet’s correspondence yet to appear in English.” –The New Yorker
“Mason's elegant translations flow smoothly off the page.”
“Wyatt Mason’s translation of Rimbaud’s letters is a swashbuckler of a book, nothing less than a resurrection of a remarkable like. As such, it is worth companion to Mason’s fine translation of the poems. No admirer of Rimbaud will want to be without it.”
“The letters themselves are bizarre, twisted, and oddly welcoming. [É] Mason's introduction is invaluable. It grounds the details from Rimbaud's letters in a concrete narrative, filling in gaps without the benefit of other people's return letters, the other half of Rimbaud's conversations. Mason acts as conductor, whispering into our ears through footnotes that treat their subject playfully and respectfully at the same time.”
–San Francisco Bay Guardian
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Top Customer Reviews
There are poems in here of promethean beauty that prefigure the rebellious spirit of French artistic bohemians in the dawn of the 20th century:
"Long ago, if my memory serves, life was a feast where every heart was open, where every wined flowed. One night, I sat Beauty on my knee.-And I found her bitter.-And I
I took arms against justice.
I fled, entrusting my treasure to you, o witches, o misery, o hate.
I snuffled any hint of human hope from my consciousness. I made the muffled leap of a wild beast into any hint of joy, to strangle it. (3).
This is an altogether excellent edition of Season and Hell and Illuminations, with a lucid and stark translation by Wyatt Mason. The Modern English library has also included the original French text, complete with a chronology of the poet's life and comprehensive facsimiles of the original texts for true bookworms who want to look at Rimbaud's corrections.
Seasons in Hell is a great read too. Felt I was going a little insane while reading it (in a good way). Highly recommended.
The wikipedia page for this cat is really remarkable. Not the beginning where they outline who his dad was and his early life and whatnot, but the section simply labeled "Poetry". It outlines his philosophy, which turned out to be a bit of self fulfilling prophecy for him, who, in case you haven't realized, is one of the great poets of all time. The bit of his life with Verlaine is pretty intriguing in a Jerry Springer sort of a way too, but there is some significance to that era that can't be overlooked in terms of who he was and who he became.
Read it and love it. It's a hell of a rabbit hole.