Paris, La Vogue, 1886.
Large 8vo of 103 pp. Bound in decorated red morocco, covers decorated with gilt fillet frames with corner fleurons, ribbed spine decorated with gilt fleurons, inner gilt fillet frames, pink moiré silk doublures and endleaves, gilt over untrimmed edges, printed salmon wrappers bound in. Binding in the style of Huser, but not signed.
221 x 137 mm.
“Very rare and much sought-after first edition” (Clouzot, p. 135).
Only 200 copies were printed, of which 30 on Japan paper.
Copy n°146, one of the 170 on Holland paper.
Rimbaud’s prose poems had been published a first time in the May-June 1886 issues of the magazine La Vogue before being gathered in this booklet in October 1886.
“The autograph manuscript has a total of 44 illuminations; the musician Charles de Sivry, Verlaine’s brother-in-law, kept it until 1886, then entrusted it to Louis le Cardonnel, who gave it to Gustave Kahn, then director of La Vogue.” (Dictionnaire des Œuvres).
Gustave Kahn published it with the errors that we know. This edition, certainly faulty, but very appealing, also gives Rimbaud’s poems written in 1872, those of the “dreamed release”.
In 1887, the critic and writer Félix Fénéon underlined its importance in Le Symboliste, saying that this text was “outside of all literature and probably above”.
Verlaine’s note at the beginning of the volume expresses his admiration: “At sixteen he had written the most beautiful verses in the world (…). He is now thirty-two years old, and travels in Asia where he occupies himself with art projects. (…) He has been said to be dead several times.”
“Synthesis of the Rimbaldian work, ‘The Illuminations’ opened new horizons to literature, seeming even to spawn and exhaust in advance the ways that they imply. The fervor of this eighteen-year-old poet resembles that of a gold digger finding the “vein” which crowns him and justifies his existence; and what strikes in this work, all to the glory of teenage hood, is its fulgurance and its intensity”. (Dictionnaire des Œuvres).
Beautiful copy from Charles Hayoit’s library.