Written in 1873 by eighteen-year-old Arthur Rimbaud, A Season in Hell (Une Saison en Enfer in French) is a prose-poem and a masterpiece of modern literature. A Season in Hell is composed of nine prose-poem chapters, each one sprinkled with visions of hell, born of Rimbaud's own disgust.
Armed with a brilliant alienation and driven by an anguished, desperate heart, eighteen-year-old Rimbaud is awakened from the innocence of childhood by a powerful nausea. Rimbaud is nauseated by the endless cabaret of bourgeois culture that dances about him and taunts him. He plummets into a private hell of estrangement and despair, mocking the procession of life around him, but simultaneously horrified at the ugly vacuity of his own existence. He struggles through confusion, self-pity, doubt, and anger, through the sewage of adolescence and the modern society, ultimately finding beauty and truth.
A l'aurore, armés d'une ardente patience, nous entrerons aux splendides Villes. -A. Rimbaud
And at dawn, armed with glowing patience, we will enter the cities of glory. (translated by Paul Schmidt)
A Season in Hell chronicles the adolescence of the soul in such a brutal lucidity as to leave you profoundly self-aware and resolute to live the rest of your life differently from then on.
Une Saison en Enfer can be found here:
The Paul Schmidt translation is available here: