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Translated by John Ashbery
Categories: 19th Century, French, LGBTQ+, Translation
Imprint: Carcanet Classics
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (176 pages)
(Pub. Sep 2018)
Arthur Rimbaud's Illuminations reissued as a Carcanet Classic
Arthur Rimbaud’s Illuminations, first published in 1886, changed the language of poetry. In John Ashbery the book has a translator whose virtuosic originality brings Rimbaud’s visions alive. The ‘crystalline jumble’ of Illuminations, Ashbery writes, is still emitting pulses of energy. ‘If we are absolutely modern – and we are – it’s because Rimbaud commanded us to be.’ Ashbery relays the kaleidoscopic dazzle of the original, a Splendide Hotel ‘built amid the tangled heap of ice floes and the polar night’, where the Witch ‘will never want to tell us what she knows, and which we do not know’.
Awards won by John Ashbery Winner, 1997 Gold Medal for Poetry Winner, 2001 Wallace Stevens Award Winner, 1995 Robert Frost Medal Winner, 1976 National Book Critics Circle Award (Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror) Winner, 1976 National Book Award (Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror) Winner, 1976 Pulitzer Award (Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror)
'Absolute modernity is perhaps granted by this translation, published nearly a century after the original work, infusing the poems with a newfound modernity...Rimbaud's hallucinatory visions translated as poetry and prose is beautifully rendered by Ashbery who manages to transcend the limits of language.'
Emma Kious, DURA
Arthur Rimbaud, the 19th-century French poet, was a ferocious malcontent, who free-wheeled towards self-destruction with the help of hashish and quantities of alcohol. Rimbaud's most thouroughly modern masterpiece, Illuminations, is now translated by John Ashbury, who brilliantly captures the volume's dizzy-making, metropolitan imagery of subways, viaducts, raised canals and bridges. - Ian Thompson, The Spectator, Books of the Year It is always a pleasure to have the extraordinary poetry of Arthur Rimbaud, teenage prodigy and (in later life) gun-runner, rendered anew into English: this version of the late poem cycle Illuminations translated by the American poet John Ashbery, is vertiginous, exhilarating and mildly hallucinogenic. - Michael Glover, The Tablet One of the strongest, most exuberant and closely engaged translations of Rimbaud's work. - Guardian, 2011 'More than a century after Arthur Rimbaud composed his Illuminations they are reborn in John Ashbery's magnificent translation. It is fitting that the major American poet since Hart Crane and Wallace Stevens should give us this noble version of the precursor of all three.'
Praise for John Ashbery 'That Ashbery had these several extended works underway simultaneously testifies not only to his unflagging fealty to the form but also to his extravagantly various powers of invention and intelligence... Even as the references that undergird these projects range from the reassuringly familiar to the dauntingly obscure, as is typical with Ashbery, they characterize a rarefied mental atmosphere, one in which the poet's droll self-awareness deflates what otherwise might be pretension... Ashbery recognized the porous border between decision and delusion, between finality and its seeming appearance. This collection of unfinished works allows readers to tread that border as well.'
Albert Mobilio, Poetry
'This is an exciting missing piece of the jigsaw for Ashbery enthusiasts. Here language fizzes with a vital "off-kilter quality" and an Ashberian state of open-ended possibility.'
The Poetry Book Society Summer Bulletin
'I'll keep returning to The Wave, knowing that each time I do, I'll connect with poems, and lines in poems, I haven't noticed before and recconect with those that have resonated already'
Pam Thompson, The North
'John Ashbery's final collection of poetry disguises itself well as a mid-career high. The energy and modernity of his strange little worlds tell nothing of his age.'
'A fine collection of poems rooted in 21st-century America.'
Robert McCrum, The Observer
'Quick Question, with the hushed intensity of its music and great lyric beauty, could only be Ashbery.'
Ian Thomson, Financial Times The book invites the reader to poetic gluttony. It serves as a corrective to the monoglot provincialism by which the Anglophone world is still bedevilled.
Sean O'Brien, Independent 'The lyrics in Breezeway, a new collection by the octogenarian poet John Ashbery are as good as his finest. I especially like the final poem, poignantly reprising the last line of Keats' Ode to a Nightingale', "Do I wake or sleep?"'
Salley Vickers, The Observer - The New Review, 29.11.2015.
'John Ashbery's Collected Poems 1956-1987, edited by Mark Ford (Carcanet), was a book I found inexhaustible. Possibly the greatest living English-speaking poet and one of the most prolific, Ashbery takes language to its limits, so that words serve as pointers to shifting experiences that elude description. Containing his masterpiece 'Self-Portrait In A Convex Mirror', one of the most penetrating 20th-century meditations on what it means to be human, this collection succeeded in stirring my thoughts as well as delighting me.'
John Gray The Guardian Books Of The Year 2010
'The careering, centrifugal side of Girls on the Run is one of its most effective tools in creating its special ainbience of good-humoured menace ... Ashbery has made the slush of signification, the realm where words slip, slide, perish and decay, uniquely his own.'
David Wheatley, Times Literary Supplement, 30 June, 2000
'In his seventies John Ashbery offers a sprightly and energetic alternative. Instead of being sluggish he demands that the self must be even more alert, more vigilant, more attentive to the world around it, not indifferent to and weary of it. Alert, vigilant, attentive ... Wakefulness, the brilliantly evocative title of Ashbery's collection.'
Stephen Matterson, 'The Capacious Art of Poetry,' Poetry Ireland Review 62, 114
'The Mooring of Starting Out is filled with illustrations glimpsed through luminous, funny, formidably intelligent and often heartbreaking poems.'
Andrew Zawacki, 'A wave of music,' Times Literary Supplement, 12 June, 1998
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