Saturday, 4 June 2011

The Prince and the Genie

by John MacCombie.

A classic example of how every group - the surrealists, Satanists, symbolists, nihilists, existentialists, etc. - eventually tries to "claim" Rimbaud. Paul Claudel was no exception. In this book, John MacCombie demonstrates that, rather than Rimbaud the voyant, the homosexual, the sordid, sadistic, inconoclastic enfant terrible, it was Rimbaud the mystic, the spiritual seeker, the subtle poetic technician who influenced the deeply religious Claudel and who was the younger poet's poetic model as well as spiritual mentor.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011


Translation by John Ashbery.

The long-awaited Ashbery translation. My copy is a "not for sale" proof copy which was, of course, sold to me on ebay. A paperback version of a book that so far exists only in hardcover, which makes this copy something of a rarity.

The translation is crisp, vibrant, lively and every other thing you'd expect from an Ashbery translation. Having said that, it's probably not quite as radical as I might have expected. But it's very, very good.

Here is Ashbery's version of my favourite Illumination, "H":

All the monstrosities violate the atrocious gestures of Hortense. Her solitude is the erotic mechanism; her lassitude, the energy of love. Under the surveillance of a childhood she has been, at various epochs, the passionate hygiene of the races. Her door is open to human misery. There, the morality of present day beings is disincorporated into her passion or her action -- O terrible shudder of novice lovers, on the bloody ground and under the illuminating hydrogen! find Hortense.


There is a superb review, here: