Arthur Rimbaud: Manuscripts which never cease to fascinate
From the poems of his youth through to Illuminations, Rimbaud’s manuscripts reflect most movingly the crucial moments in his creative life. They show us in turn the brilliant schoolboy with his string of first prizes, the adventure-loving adolescent, and then the troublemaker and « bad boy » of contemporary poetic circles who would soon become one of the most revered of the « poètes maudits ».
A painstaking process of reconstruction
In order to create this edition we first had to undertake the arduous task of tracking down Rimbaud’s widely dispersed manuscripts. We searched the holdings of great institutions such as the British Library, the Bibliothèque nationale de France and the Martin Bodmer Foundation at Cologny in Switzerland.
Once the manuscripts had been reassembled and ordered chronologically, our graphic artists set about removing some of the ravages of time and neglect so that readers might enjoy the delicious sensation of almost having the originals in their hands.
Some unsolved mysteries around the manuscripts
Certain manuscripts still remain in private collections whose whereabouts have been difficult to establish. Others, such as the originals of Dévotion and Démocratie, have never been found, though there is always the possibility that they may resurface one day. That hope is kept alive by the recent discovery of one of Rimbaud’s letters from 1874 addressed to Jules Andrieu.
In this letter, he writes of an ambitious project for a work entitled « Histoire splendide », which seems to be very dear to him. He had conceived the idea while he was sharing a room in London with the poet Germain Nouveau, and was putting the finishing touches to certain poems in Illuminations.
« A collection of wonderful fragments »: André Guyaux’s afterword on Illuminations
André Guyaux recounts the fascinating story which lies behind Illuminations. The collective title for them was suggested by Verlaine and some of the poems, written on unnumbered and disparate sheets of paper, « disappeared » on several occasions, leading Verlaine to believe that they were lost forever.
1,000 numbered copies
1,000 numbered copies