BBC iPlayer - Between the Ears: A Season in Hell
Broadcast on: BBC Radio 3, 9:45pm Saturday 14th November 2009
Duration: 30 minutes
Available until: 10:17pm Saturday 21st November 2009
An abridged radio reworking of Rimbaud's intense masterpiece of spiritual disillusionment, narrated by Carl Prekopp with a soundscape by Bristol composer Elizabeth Purnell and poems sung by Robert Wyatt
"A Season in Hell was written between April and August 1873 in London and France, when Rimbaud was 18, and in the throes of an intense, transgressive and destructive relationship with Verlaine. It is regarded as one of the most remarkable pieces of prose poetry ever written - a mixture of autobiography and enigmatic dream sequence in which Rimbaud looks back in despair over his life as a poet. Combining lucid self-appraisal with demented vision, it moves between hyper-realism and hallucinatory surrealism, blending sounds, colours, odours and intensely visual images. The 25 pages of A Season in Hell, here cut to a third of its length, are seen as both a testimony to and a tortured recantation of Rimbaud's poetic credo, the 'disordering of all the senses'.
"Elizabeth Purnell's soundtrack for the work includes composed music, field recordings and processed sound in a raw response to the words; she set the poems specifically for Wyatt, whose voice in its high, delicate register suggests a beyond-the-grave alter-ego to the young Rimbaud."