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John Ashbery
Discoveries
Discoveries

Illuminations Arthur Rimbaud, translated from the French by John Ashbery W.W. Norton: 165 pp., $24.95 This may be the most beautiful book in the world — lighted from within and somehow embodying all forms of literature at the same time. The 44 prose poems of "Illuminations" were Arthur Rimbaud's goodbye to poetry (though he had said goodbye before); they are poised on the brink of a new world. Rimbaud was on his way to Africa to live a life of commerce, to enter the world of buying and selling. In 1875, he gave the manuscript, famously, to his friend and ex-lover Paul Verlaine, requesting him to send it to a publisher. "Illuminations" is often called the...

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