“EVERY IMAGE EXISTS IN ITS OWN RIGHT”: VERY RARE 1886 FIRST EDITION OF RIMBAUD’S EXTRAORDINARY LES ILLUMINATIONS, ONE OF ONLY 200 COPIES, WITH ORIGINAL PAPER WRAPPERS BOUND IN
RIMBAUD, Arthur. Les Illuminations. Paris: Publications de La Vogue, 1886. Slim octavo, mid-20th-century full navy morocco, raised bands, all edges gilt; housed in a custom slipcase and chemise. $25,000.
Limited first edition of one of Rimbaud’s important poetical works, one of only 200 copies, this copy number 39 of 170 copies on Holland paper, with preface by French poet Paul Verlaine. Handsomely bound by J.-P. Miguet, with original paper wrappers bound in.
“Arthur Rimbaud, a poet of precocious genius and violent, unstable character, began writing at 15 and abandoned literature some five, or possibly ten, years later. At 37, after years as a trader and explorer at Harar and in the interior of Abyssinia, he died unaware that he had become a master for the Symbolists. He now counts as one of the strongest influences on modern, and not only French, poetry… Rimbaud went farther than any poet before him in the exploration of the subconscious and, technically, in experimenting with rhythm and the use of words as units, without any syntactical relationship, purely for their evocative and sensational value” (Harvey & Heseltine, 619-20). “In the winter of 1875, [Paul] Verlaine visited Rimbaud in Stuttgart and was handed a pile of manuscripts. Verlaine gathered them together, named them Illuminations, and saw to it they were published, a decade later. ‘Illuminations’ is meant in the double sense of epiphany and of ‘pictures in books… Illuminations contain some of Rimbaud’s most vivid and direct imagery, Graham Robb noting their ‘almost total absence of comparisons and analogies. Every image exists in its own right” (Mason, xxxvi). In addition to providing the preface, Verlaine paid for the publication of the volume. Text in French. Laid in is an original sales receipt made out to editor, publisher, and bibliophile William Targ, the powerful editor-in-chief of Putnam’s. Targ’s authors, as editor and publisher, included Saul Bellow, Henry Roth, Simone de Beauvoir, Tennessee Williams, Richard Wright, Norman Mailer, and Mario Puzo.
Interior fine; expert paper repairs and tape residue to the versos of original paper wrappers. A fine copy of this scarce and fragile rarity, handsomely bound.