A Season in Hell

It’s come a long way from the mad rant that Arthur Rimbaud self-published in the waning days of the 19th century. A Season in Hell, written in a farmhouse after his lover Paul Verlaine had gone to jail for shooting him in the wrist, is the book with which Rimbaud gave birth to Symbolism. OK, so maybe that’s a tad too much credit, but it’s Rimbaud, for crying out loud. Donald Revell, who did such a magnificent job translating Apollinaire, brings a deft touch to Rimbaud’s prose. He makes full use of contemporary English in all its culturally weighted vernacular, which may leave traditionalists cold. I’d beg them to remember that Rimbaud was the original wild child. Revell’s hip translation does Rimbaud justice, and shows the first burst of what became the torrent of modern poetry.