Publication Date: January 14, 2003
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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 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.
Wyatt Mason has translated five books by Pierre Michon, including The Origin of the World and Masters and Servants, a finalist for the French-American Foundation Translation Prize. He is at work on translations of Dante’s La Vita Nuova and Rimbaud’s letters, both for the Modern Library. His writing has appeared in Harper’s, The Nation, and other publications.
“The definitive translation for our time.” —Edward Hirsch
“Wyatt Mason has located and tapped into Rimbaud’s voice as it swings from gnarled to straight-ahead to mystic to raucous.” —Roger Shattuck
“An important introduction of Rimbaud to another generation of readers.” —Booklist
“The best opportunity thus far to experience Rimbaud as fully as possible in English. Here is Rimbaud uncensored: the savage maker, the scathing satirist, the rigorous Alchemist of the Word, the master of metrics and innovator of the prose poem, the figure who made himself absolutely modern, the poetic visionary whose work systematically disorders the senses and resonates with a strange beauty, an exultant splendor.” —Edward Hirsch
“A welcome addition to the shelf of Rimbaud in English. Mason’s tireless zeal and endless inventiveness compel unfailing admiration.” —Arthur Goldhammer