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’.